Reagan touts red-light cameras before Congress

MANATEE — State House Speaker Pro Tempore Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, recently testified in the nation’s capital that he believes in the value of mounting red-light cameras at intersections.

Reagan was summoned to the U.S. House of Rep- resentatives on June 30 along with six other expert witnesses to share their views on automated traffic enforcement technology and answer questions from members of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

Right now, individual states decide if they want to adopt automated technology for traffic enforcement.

“I don’t know where they will go with this,” Reagan said Friday. “They are gathering information to see if there should be a national stance on this. They are wondering if there should be some national standards set.”

Reagan, who calls it his greatest accomplishment as a Florida legislator, labored for five years to get a red-light camera bill passed in the state. He was joined in the struggle by Tara resident Melissa Wandall, whose husband, Mark, died in 2003 in a crash caused by a red-light runner.

The Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act, sponsored by Reagan, was signed into law by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist on May 13.

The new state law requires that for each $158 citation issued for red-light running, $75 will stay with the local jurisdiction where the citation occurred, $70 will go back to the state, $10 will be set aside for funding of trauma centers and $3 will go into the state’s Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Trust Fund, according to the U.S. House of Representatives website.

Reagan’s determined work on the bill was noted by U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, a member of the subcommittee on Highways and Transit who invited Reagan to the Capitol.

“The way government works, I imagine it will be some time before the results come out,” Reagan said.

Reagan was among four witnesses in favor of automated traffic enforcement technology to improve safety and three against it, he said.

One criticism of cameras brought up in Congress was one Reagan was familiar with because it was brought up constantly in Florida. “Does it violate privacy by capturing activities on film?”

Reagan thinks not.

“I told them that if you are in a vehicle on a public road, there is no expectation of privacy,” Reagan said. “The only expectation is that you obey the traffic rules.”

Wandall was pleased that Reagan was invited to testify before Congress.

“I think it’s fabulous,” Wandall said Friday. “People are starting to understand that this tool will aid red-light running. I think it will change the driving attitudes in intersections. If this can grow into a nationwide venture, I fully support it.”

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