Are speed cameras really necessary here? We’re not sure.
The Manhattan City Commission this week debated the use of the cameras, which, unlike red-light cameras, look at traffic movement. If a camera detects a vehicle going too fast, it snaps a photo of the license plate.
There are some potential legal problems with using speed cameras in Kansas. Speeding is a criminal offense, and a law enforcement officer has to observe a violation and serve the violator in person. Other states have gotten around that by making tickets from speed cameras a municipal violation. Kansas law doesn’t allow municipalities to create lesser offenses for state traffic violations.
Other than that, no law exists permitting or prohibiting the use of speed cameras.
If Manhattan were to adopt the speed cameras, it would be a guinea pig for the practice. That could open the city up to lawsuits, which could be expensive.
It’s worth noting that the city of Olathe had tried implementing speed cameras but later withdrew the plan because officials there thought a legal challenge might jeopardize existing cameras, which the city uses for traffic control purposes.
Assistant city manager Dennis Marstall told commissioners that there is no data on traffic in local school zones, which is what officials seemed to be most concerned about.
With no evidence of a problem and no assurance that the cameras would be a viable solution, why pursue it?
Said Commissioner Linda Morse on Tuesday: “I don’t think I’m interested in being on the bleeding edge of this.”
The commission wisely asked administrators for more data and state input before making a decision.