Camera-based enforcement pitched as congestion buster

BOSTON — Drivers who go too far into an intersection and block traffic from advancing in other directions would face penalties even if a police officer is not present under legislation Boston city officials touted Wednesday.

The bills (H 2971 / S 2045) would allow municipalities to install cameras that would record photos and video of cars that begin moving through a traffic light but do not clear the intersection before the signal changes.

The practice, often referred to as "blocking the box," creates congestion headaches, and while police could pull drivers over to write citations, that often adds to traffic, according to Boston Police Department Deputy Superintendent Kevin McGoldrick.

"Enforcement by traditional measures is very challenging and arguably exacerbates the problem," McGoldrick told the Joint Committee on Transportation at a Wednesday hearing.

Under the bills, violations could be issued based on recorded camera images. Supporters said the language includes privacy provisions that prevent that information from being used for non-enforcement purposes.

The legislation would also allow municipalities to use cameras to impose violations on drivers who fail to stop for school buses, a proposal included in other bills the Transportation Committee is vetting.

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