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Panel blocks bill to halt 'right-turn traps' in Virginia

Traffic cameras are "trapping" drivers, says the National Motorists Association.
Traffic cameras are "trapping" drivers, says the National Motorists Association.Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

A road-safety group took another run at what it calls “outrageous abuses” at the city of Virginia Beach’s camera-enforced intersections.

But a House transportation subcommittee turned back the complaints and rejected a bill that would have ended “right-turn traps,” Watchdog.org reported Wednesday.

“Red right-turn signals are being displayed during phases of the signal cycle when flashing yellow right-arrow and green right-arrow signals should be displayed,” the National Motorists Association‘s Joe Bahen wrote to state Delegate Richard Anderson, R-Woodbridge, chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

“Even during phases when red signals are needed, yellow intervals are so short that they defy the laws of basic physics,” Bahen said.

“These outrageous abuses are causing drivers to slam on brakes, resulting in serious crashes,” he concluded.

To correct the situation, NMA urged passage of House Bill 116 to “reinforce the original intent of the 2007 red-light camera law.” It requires modern signals and adequate yellow times for turn lanes.

HB 116, sponsored by Delegate Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, was quickly dismissed by the subcommittee after hearing what Bahen called “factually inaccurate testimony.”

The action left localities to deal with the issue.

The NMA last year called attention to Virginia Beach’s shortened yellow-light intervals, which were causing a spate of rear-end crashes.

In the wake of Watchdog’s reports, the commonwealth’s largest city lengthened those yellow lights.