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Family of Accident Victim Lobbies for PhotoCop

Family of Accident Victim Lobbies for PhotoCop

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The family of an 82-year-old man killed when an inattentive driver ran a red light and struck the taxicab in which he was riding is lobbing for the Legislature to restore PhotoCop.

The bill sponsored by Rep. Roz McGee, D-Salt Lake City, would allow cities to use unmanned cameras to take pictures of vehicles that are speeding or going through red lights.

McGee's bill is meant to address some of the criticism that led the 1996 Legislature to restrict the use of such technology. Her bill would forbid PhotoCop vendors from receiving money based on the number of tickets issued.

Among those lobbying for the bill are relatives of Jack Jarman, who was killed in the Oct. 20 accident in Salt Lake City. The driver has not been charged but case remains under review.

Members of the victim's family took out a newspaper ad asking residents and legislators to support McGee's bill.

Jack Jarman's son, Wally, was one of several community activists behind running the ad. Jarman said the idea came from Allen Sanderson, who started lobbying for the PhotoCop legislation about three years ago after his cat was run over.

"People are going to see the ad, pick up the phone and call their legislators," Wally Jarman said. "I'm convinced there are a lot of people in Utah that have had similar wrecks, maybe not fatal, but there is a lobby."

The Jarman family ad shows a photo of Jack Jarman dressed in a tuxedo and smiling. Above it reads: "Running red lights killed a thousand Americans last year. Our father was one of them."

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson is in favor of the photo radar technology, saying it would help deter drivers from speeding and running red lights.

The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety urges the use of technologies like PhotoCop. Spokesman Russ Rader said 900 people are killed and 200,000 injured annually in crashes involving drivers running red lights. And one-third of fatal crashes involve speeding.

More than 100 cities use the red-light enforcement technology, including Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles and New York, while only about 15 use photo radar to catch speeders.

Opponents include the National Motorists Association, which contends cameras don't deter bad driving.

It contends that taking a reckless driver's picture does not stop that incident of reckless driving.

Critics also contend the devices may be used more to generate revenue for city governments than to make the streets safer. They say signal lights may be tweaked -- such as by shortening the duration of the yellow light -- to make it more likely that a motorist will violate the law.

They also say the speed cameras may be placed where speeding is common, but not where it is most dangerous.

In Utah, West Valley City, Sandy and Layton tried photo radar in the mid-1990s. Some of the agencies said that it led to a decline in the number of accidents. Some of their figures were questioned.

Some legislators also questioned the fairness of fining vehicle owners, who may not have been the actual drivers violating the traffic laws.

The Legislature effectively put an end to PhotoCop in 1996, and an effort to resurrect it in the 1998 Legislature failed.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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