Red-Light Cameras: Profit Or Safety?


By Catalina Trivino

Cameras hover over 23 intersections in Montgomery catching drivers running red lights -- but one state lawmaker says the cameras are unconstitutional and he's prepared to fight them.

$775,000 -- that's about how much the city of Montgomery has made this year in tickets from red light cameras.

But state representative, Paul Beckman, says he questions if the cameras are being used for the right reasons.

You've seen the cameras, scattered across some of Montgomery's intersections. They snap a photo of your car if you've run a red light. Then later, you get a ticket in the mail.

But State Representative, Paul Beckman of Prattville, questions if the cameras are there to make Montgomery roads safer... or are they just a way for the city to make an extra profit.

"What happens in this particular case is the cities get it and it goes into the city coffers and so the city is getting the money on these civil matters and it's not helping out the state as far as the functioning and basically controlling the road," Said Beckman.

And that's why he's considering sponsoring a bill to outlaw the cameras. He says he hasn't seen the statistics on whether they make the roadways safer. But Montgomery traffic engineer, Bubba Bowdon, says he watches the roads every day. He says he's seen a difference in the number of crashes in the areas.

"[There] used to be about 30 fatalities a year occuring at intersections due to red light running or right angle accidents is what would occur. And that's down in the teens and single digits now," Said Bowdon.

But Camisha Scott believes the way the system works isn't fair.

"It kind of put me back in a bind and I wasn't even the one that ran the red light and they're both on Ann St. And now, I have to pay $85 for two tickets that I didn't even do," Said Scott.

And they're tickets the city says have fallen to 1,200 a month -- that's 400 fewer tickets from when the cameras were first put up.

As Beckman considers sponsoring the bill, he's also waiting to see whether the Alabama Supreme Court will step in and ban the cameras.