A bill in the Virginia House of Delegates could halt the installation of red-light cameras across the state, but experts say claims that the program is abusive and needs to be scaled back are overblown. Introduced by Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge, the bill would prevent any locality from installing new red-light cameras, which photograph and ticket drivers who run red traffic lights, after July 1, 2011. While red-light cameras installed before the cutoff date would be allowed to remain, cities and counties that now have the cameras would be barred from installing any more.

Lingamfelter has been battling red-light cameras in the General Assembly for years, arguing that while the cameras promote safety they also infringe on civil rights by invading the privacy of drivers.

But officials at AAA Mid-Atlantic say that Virginia's red-light camera program is well-run and has generated no substantial complaints about abuses.

AAA previously hounded officials in the District and Chevy Chase Village in Montgomery County for abuses of red-light cameras -- cases where the objective of the program was simply to make money rather than improve of public safety, according to Lon Anderson, AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman. Tickets typically cost $50.

"We've not had complaints from our members indicating that they think the [Virginia] program is abusive, or that they think they got caught or clapped or anything like that unfairly," Anderson said. "The fact is that red-light cameras, when properly used, can be a great adjunct to police enforcement."

But that doesn't mean AAA wants red-light cameras everywhere. The group opposes a bill, already approved by the full Senate, that would allow localities to install more red-light cameras more quickly.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Yvonne Miller, D-Norfolk, would allow larger cities and counties to install red-light cameras without the approval of the Virginia Department of Transportation. Localities currently must prove the camera would help reduce problems in a dangerous intersection to get VDOT's approval.

Anderson called Miller's bill "a step in the wrong direction."

"Every level of review that you can build into this is another level of protection that local jurisdictions aren't going to be abusing this privilege of supplementing their policing with automated enforcement," Anderson said. "I think VDOT's review is important."