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Proposed Speed Measuring System Resisted In Wake County

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina drivers are used to seeing state troopers in cars running radar.

They also probably are used to the little law-enforcement speed trailers that are part of the Click It or Ticket campaign that tell motorists what their speed is as they pass by.

But what they are not used to are traffic cameras making pictures of their cars, measuring their speeds and issuing traffic citations for speeding.

There is a bill pending for just that right now in front of the Legislature. It is House Bill No. 562. The Charlotte delegation calls it the Photo Speed Measuring System.

What they want to do is start in Charlotte with a pilot program and basically have machines handle the job of issuing traffic citations. The Charlotte delegation says there just aren't enough law enforcement officers on the road to keep things safe out there.

Charlotte police aren't handing out tickets yet, but they are already testing the speed cameras. The system is similar to the radar used now. The big difference -- the camera takes a picture that matches the clocked speed. You get a ticket in the mail instead of getting pulled over.

"We have the highest insurance rates in the state because of speed," said Charlotte City Councilman Joe White, "and I am willing to do whatever is necessary to slow people down."

Rep. Sam Ellis of Wake County is on the House Judiciary Committee that will be taking a look at the bill. He said he'll do everything in his power to kill it.

"There are technical problems that are very similar to those encountered with the red-light cameras," Ellis said. "The fact that my car went by and was speeding doesn't necessarily mean that I was driving it. The administrative process is done by individuals who were not elected by the people of North Carolina to make decisions, and, instead, generally are people that have a financial interest in making sure that the ticket does stay."

The state is already watching motorists with its system of traffic cameras, mainly in the metro areas, the Triangle, the Triad, Charlotte.

A lot of people are OK if it's just watching. But watching and handing out a ticket, that crosses the line for some people.

A lot of the people that had problems with red-light cameras have similar problems with this. The bill is not in committee yet, but it will be coming up very soon.