NM senator calls red light cameras a cash cow for govt.

City says they're 'the only thing that works' in stopping red light violations, accidents.

Albuquerque, NM has operated red light cameras since 2005, generating 80,000 tickets worth $5 million in tickets. Apparently, the technology is a boon to safety and city coffers. State Sen. William Payne, an Albuquerque Republican, agrees the cameras are lining the city's treasury but doubts they do anything for safety, reports the Albuquerque Tribune.

"They are a guise for making money for the city of Albuquerque," Payne said Monday in a news release.

Untrue, says Mayor Martin Chavez. The proceeds just pay for the program, he said, although $250,000 was used for prosecution of meth prodcution and distribution.

"These cameras are not a cash cow for the city," Chavez said. "I've tried everything to cut down on speeding and red-light violations, and this program is the first thing that has worked."

Payne wants the city to install flashing yellow beacons in the streets that would warn drivers that the signal is about to turn yellow. Sort of caution-caution lights.

Police spokesman John Walsh said the yellow lights on traffic signals are already designed to give drivers time to stop, even if they are traveling faster than the speed limit. "They give motorists a tremendous cushion or warning time," Walsh said.

The cameras operate under a public nuisance ordinance, meaning tickets issued by the system are civil rather than criminal violations. Fines generally start at $100 and range upward depending on how fast a motorist was driving and how many prior violations they've had.

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