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Kaine Signs Traffic Safety Bills

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine announced today that he has signed several bills on traffic safety that were passed by the General Assembly. One restores the red-light camera program for the jurisdictions that want it, another limits use of cell phones by young drivers and a third raises the required age for use of child restraint seats.

Kaine has not acted yet on what many Virginia leaders regard as the big enchilada, House Bill 3202, which would change the way the state finances its transportation improvements. He's likely to amend that one next week and send it back for review by the assembly.

These are the specifics on the new laws Kaine signed:

-- House Bill 1778 (sponsoredby De. John A. Cosgrove)/ Senate Bill 829 (sponsored by Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis) give localities the option of installing photo-monitoring systems to enforce traffic light signals. Kaine said he may submit a technical amendment that does not impact on the substance of the legislation.

"This legislation allows local law enforcement to determine if, and where, cameras might help improve highway safety," Kaine said. "The research indicates this enforcement tool will help increase traffic flow, reduce accidents, and save lives."

This puts Virginia back with Maryland and the District in allowing the use of red-light cameras. Maryland and the District also allow the use of speed cameras. Montgomery County and some of its municipalities just launched such programs.

-- Senate Bill 1039 (sponsored by Sen. Jay O'Brien) prohibits the use of a cell phone or other wireless device while driving by those with a provisional license or a learner's permit, except in an emergency and only when the vehicle is parked.

"I believe this is a commonsense restriction on those new drivers who may be tempted to pay more attention to phone calls and text messages than the road, endangering themselves and other drivers," Kaine said.

-- House Bill 1908 (sponsored by Del. Dave Albo)/ Senate Bill 1060 (sponsored by Sen. John Watkins) increase the age that children must be secured in a child restraint device, from 5 to 8, and requires that rear-facing child restraint devices for infants from birth to one year must be secured only in the back seat of most motor vehicles. Reasonable exceptions becasuse of a child's weight, physical fitness, or other medical reason would be allowed, based on a signed letter from a licensed medical doctor.

"This legislation was the number-one priority of traffic safety advocates this year, based on research that clearly shows most 6- and 7-year-olds are too small to be properly secured with seat belts and shoulder harnesses," Kaine said.

By Robert Thomson  |  March 23, 2007; 3:12 PM ET
Categories:  Safety  
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