Watch CBS News

Bill would authorize speed camera pilot project in Minneapolis, other metro communities

Speed cameras might make a comeback in Minneapolis
Speed cameras might make a comeback in Minneapolis 01:54

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Democrats want the legislature to greenlight a pilot project allowing the city of Minneapolis and other metro-area communities to install traffic enforcement cameras in certain places.

The four-year pilot would authorize red light and speed cameras in areas near schools and high-risk zones identified by crash data. Minneapolis, Mendota Heights and one county and city in the metro chosen by the Minnesota Department of Transportation would participate. 

Both red light and speed camera violations would carry a $40 fine and it would double to $80 if a driver is going 20 miles over the speed limit.

The goal is to gather local data on how effective the cameras are on making roads safer. Around two dozen states have some sort of camera enforcement in this way, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. If the pilot shows the cameras are effective, then lawmakers would give any city the authority to use them, said bill sponsor Sen. Zaynab Mohamed, DFL-Minneapolis. 

"This is, I think, a step in the right direction. I don't think it will completely fix the issue itself, but I think it will help change behavior and the way people drive in our city," said Mohamed.

MORE NEWS: Hennepin County deputy injured during Minnetonka shooting released from hospital

Mohamed first brought the bill forward last year but took time in the interim to work with stakeholders, she said, to get the language right. A month after the legislative session adjourned, a speeding driver struck another vehicle when he ran a red light, killing five young women who were going out on a Friday night last June.

She said the tragedy motivated her to do more. 

"I remember going to that funeral and just feeling so hopeless about how this can be possible and wanting to do more about it," Mohamed said in an interview.

In 2007, the Minnesota Supreme Court put the brakes on Minneapolis' "photo cop" ordinance, upholding a lower court ruling that found it violated state law. The ACLU of Minnesota had due process concerns, too, because the cameras issue tickets to the owner of the vehicle, regardless of who is driving. 

Now, 17 years later, city officials give them the go-ahead. Ethan Fawley, coordinator of the Minneapolis Vision Zero program, told the Senate Judiciary Committee Friday there's been an increase in speeding and red light running, "leading to more people being killed on our streets" in Minneapolis.   

"We know that there are questions around fairness, privacy, equity, and we've taken all those best practices from around the country," Fawley explained. "And the feedback that we've heard locally, and incorporated that into the bill."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.