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TUESDAY, JANUARY 17, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Give electronic police an opportunity to succeed

The furor over whether Alabama needs cameras to record motorists running red lights brings to mind an incident at Alabama 67 and Alabama 36 years ago.

A young state trooper who said he witnessed a motorist ignore the four-way stop sign caught up with the alleged culprit a mile or so down Alabama 67.

The motorist was incredulous. He believed he stopped. The trooper replied the motorist didn't even slow for the crossing.

The case went to Morgan County District Court where Judge David Breland asked the motorist if he would swear that he stopped.

"Judge, I believe deeply that I stopped," the driver replied, but he wouldn't swear that he did.

The verdict? Guilty as charged.

Many motorists drive by rote. That's likely what happened that Sunday morning, when the trooper waited in a secluded spot on Alabama 36 south. Luck rode with the motorist, and fate had no other motorist attempting to cross the intersection.

Troopers and police officers can't be at every major intersection to enforce the law, or as a reminder to drive safely.

Rep. David Grimes, R-Montgomery, wants the Legislature to again look at installing cameras to record motorists running red lights.

Some legislators see cameras as more government intrusion. Today, these violations are a police officer's word against the motorist. Yet, the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words has truth in certain situations.

Rep. Grimes wants to make sure cameras don't become handy tools of speed-trap operations in which unscrupulous departments use cameras to generate revenue.

Hopefully, other legislators will seriously consider this legislation as an effective means to reduce the injury, death and damage that come from motorists running red lights.

Getting caught once or twice usually makes motorists more conscious of their driving.

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