Skip to comments.4 weeks, 10,000 traffic tickets (Red Light Cameras)
Posted on 08/01/2009 2:52:45 PM PDT by buccaneer81
4 weeks, 10,000 traffic tickets Heath officials say they didn't expect such a windfall Saturday, August 1, 2009 3:01 AM By Josh Jarman THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH HEATH, Ohio -- City officials say they were shocked by the number of violations recorded during the first month of traffic-camera enforcement and decided to make it cheaper to protest multiple tickets.
More than 10,000 violations had been recorded by Heath traffic cameras through Tuesday. At $100 apiece, that would net the city a little more than $830,000 after paying the vendor, Redflex, its share.
In four weeks, the cameras will have generated an amount equivalent to roughly 12 percent of the Licking County community's annual budget -- and a lot of anger.
Mayor Richard Waugh said the city's intention was not to saddle drivers with four, six or sometimes eight or more tickets. Citations were not mailed for almost three weeks, however, to give City Council members a chance to modify the program in response to the high number of violations.
That meant some drivers racked up several over a period of days without realizing it until a bundle of tickets arrived in the mail.
Waugh said he sympathizes with drivers facing multiple fines. "If someone was pulled over by police and given a ticket once, that would be enough to modify driving behavior."
Before yesterday, drivers who sought to have their tickets dismissed would have had to post a full $100 bond for each one. Now, they will have to post $100 on only the first ticket to fight all of them, Waugh said. The hearing officer has been instructed to be lenient in cases of similar violations, he said, adding that he hopes that could lead to dismissal of up to half the tickets sent in July.
Waugh said that would cut the city's take, but the cameras were never about money. He said no specific purpose has been identified for the fines, which will go into the city's roughly $7 million general fund.
The cameras have generated fewer tickets each week, and Waugh said the city had expected the number to level off at about 400 a month. He said the city anticipated generating an additional $100,000 from fines this year.
But opponents still call the cameras a cash-grab by the city, questioning their effectiveness as safety devices. Ten cameras watch over six intersections, looking for speeders, red-light runners and other violators. Signs at the intersections warn that the cameras are in use.
According to statistics compiled by the Ohio Department of Transportation, 16 of the 408 traffic crashes reported on Rt. 79 from Hopewell Drive to Irving Wick Drive between 2006 and 2008 were caused by someone running a red light. Six were attributed to cars traveling faster than the 35-mph speed limit. Following too closely was reported as the greatest contributing factor in most crashes, which overwhelmingly were rear-end collisions.
A similar report for Rt. 79 south of Irving Wick found that one of 38 crashes in the same period was caused by speeding. Two speed-enforcement cameras at Coffman Boulevard in that area accounted for more than half of all the tickets issued last month.
Heath Police Chief Tony Shepherd said ODOT's crash data does not tell the whole story. In most noninjury crashes, police do not have the time or manpower to conduct crash-reconstruction analysis, he said. The speeds listed on those crash reports are the speeds reported by the drivers.
Shepherd said officers typically write about 100 traffic tickets a month, mainly because his department is too short-staffed to devote significant time to enforcement.
Shepherd and Waugh disagree with those who say the speed limit at Coffman is artificially low. The four-lane road there travels through a less-congested area of some businesses and homes before opening up to fairly rural countryside south of the city.
Every day in summer, more than 1,500 children travel to the city water park, about a block north of the Coffman intersection near City Hall, Waugh said.
He said raising the speed limit along that stretch would put residents in danger, considering how many drivers already exceed it.
"The speed limit has been 35 there for 40 years," Waugh said, "and there are three signs telling you that before you get to Coffman."
That's all it is or ever was.
TEOs - tax enforcement officers
Liar liar pants on fire.
I also wonder if some of these lights might ought to be flashing yellow in the night hours - that used to be standard practice in Ohio years ago for lights at the entrance to shopping centers or sidestreets where traffic was not an issue at night. Such lights would flash yellow on the main road and flash red on the side street or driveway.
Running traffic lights is illegal, and people have gotten away with it so long that they expect no one to be ticketed—that is until one of their loved ones is killed.
Of course it is all about money. 80% of the fines are for right turns on red without stopping long enough, not for running the light.
It is a Scam to make a lot of money.
And it has been shown to “cause” accidents from people slamming on their brakes to prevent running an “orange” light.
That is right “orange” not red.
Then why even have them?
A politicians dream program.
Get the money and still claim to cut taxes.
When do we repeat the actions related to 1776?
Let me know and I will be there.
Except now you have drivers slamming on their brakes when they see a yellow as they enter the intersection. And that's going to get people killed.
$100 a pop is cheap. In CA I think it’s $400-$500.
If politicians put these up at every intersection, we’d have the richest gov’t in the world. All, and I do mean all, of our budget woes would be gone and the pols couldn’t spend the revenue as fast as it came in.
It's NEVER about money and job security is it?
Me thinks we have crossed the line and are now working for the government instead of the government working for us.
Add ALL the government thievery and I bet even the most modest of producers are paying more than 50% of their labor to government.
“It’s all about the money.”
Yes, it is. States and municipalities are broker than broke. They’ve got to wring every last dime out of us ‘stupid turnips’ while they can...
‘The People’s Republik of Madistan’ who LOVES their bike trails and gay spandex boys, to the exclusion of all other citizens, has been ticketing bicyclists for ANY minor infraction they can find. Truly SHOCKING!
The cops got a federal GRANT to set up ‘stings’ for bikers on our local roads much like they do for drunk drivers. And they’ve been setting up more ‘stings’ than usual for speeders, drunks and those that don’t wear seatbelts.
You’re ratting out your neighbor with your tax dollars, whethere you even realize it or not.
(As a law-abider, I most likely won’t have to pay into the kitty, but I try to break one or two minor laws a day where I can; letting my lawn go until it’s close to ticket-height, putting a pop can into the trash versus the recycle bin, spitting on the sidewalk, dancing in public, etc. Try it. You’ll feel a WHOLE lot better, LOL!)
Drivers will modify their behavior and the number of violations will fall to almost nil. Then, the revenue necessary to carry the costs of the program will evaporate.
This is exactly what happened in Dallas after three months of the red-light camera program.
Great example umgud!
California is swimming in wealth because of their intake of earned labor aren't they?
Business idea: create an Internet data base that ties in with global positioning systems.
When a driver sees a red light camera, he/she presses a button on a device that sends the GPS location to a centralized data base. Then, whenever a driver who subscribes to the service approaches that location, their GPS device warns them that a red light camera is present.
To avoid abuse, e.g. by municipal officials who see this as a revenue source, registration and possibly a fee should be required to send camera locations to the system. This would prevent municipalities from flagging every location in sight (including the middle of Interstate highways) to interfere with its effective use. Also, perhaps require the same location to be flagged by a given number of separate users.
No one can complain that this would work against traffic safety because the warning would make people more likely to stop when the light turns red.
I'd be willing to be the red-light runners who are causing deadly accidents are running reds long after they've turned, when cross-traffic has actually had a chance to proceed through the intersection.
Here in the Albuquerque area, red light running is a common thing. Usually it's a long line of traffic and the last cars through don't want to wait for the next light. Rarely does the cross-traffic even have a chance to start up until the intersection is cleared.
The problem with red light cameras is that the yellow is often shortened to catch more drivers in the grey area of "should I maintain speed or should I stop"? Now, instead of side-impact crashes, you get rear-end versions as people slam on the brakes to avoid the camera. If the yellow is the proper length, most people stop easily for the red.
With this many tickets being recorded, they have to be scamming the system. In San Diego, they found that some of the equipment was not installed properly. Plus, the company operating it had shortened the yellow light time below the required minimums. In California, the state sets the minimum amount of yellow light time required, and that minimum time varies according to the speed limit on the street. The higher the limit, the longer the yellow time that is required.