A proposed bill with bi-partisan support in the Ohio Legislature would, if passed, ban the use of traffic cameras to detect red light and speed limit violations.
Rep. Ron Hood, R-Ashville, Rep. Ron Maag, R-Lebanon, and Rep. Dale Mallory, D-Cincinnati, are sponsoring House Bill 69.
Hood, in a statement on his website, said the traffic cameras are often installed “as a money-grab for local governments.”
“The primary purpose of issuing fines should be to punish people who violate the law, not as a source or revenue,” stated Hood.
He cited studies that showed accidents increased at some intersections where cameras are installed.
“A 2004 study conducted by North Carolina A&T State University…found no change in single accidents and large increases in rear-end crashes and many other types of crashes relative to other intersections,” he stated.
The legislators introduced the bill soon after a Hamilton County Common Pleas Court judge ruled in March that speed enforcement cameras in Elmwood Place, a small village of about 2,000 in southwest Ohio, violated citizens’ due process rights.
Judge Robert Ruehlman, in his ruling, stated that the cameras are not calibrated by a certified police officer, but rather by the company that owns the cameras, which has a financial stake in the game.
“It is a scam that the motorists can’t win. The entire case against the motorists is stacked because the speed monitoring device is controlled by the company,” said Ruehlman in his ruling.
Supporters of the cameras are fighting back.
The Traffic Safety Coalition issued a statement last month urging legislators to oppose House Bill 69.
The group noted there were several cities in Ohio that saw a reduction in crashes due to the use of traffic cameras. One of the cities cited was Toledo, which saw a 39 percent reduction in fatal red light running crashes.
“State leaders should be encouraging more cities to use cameras as a tool to reduce injury and death on our roadways,” stated the group.
Northwood Mayor Mark Stoner, who is fighting council to keep traffic cameras at two intersections, said he plans to lobby the Legislature to defeat the bill. Although some opponents of the cameras have cited studies showing the cameras in some communities may increase accidents at intersections, local statistics show the cameras lower the accident rate in Northwood.
Stoner and former Administrator Pat Bacon were successful years ago when they traveled to Columbus after learning that Congress had withdrew funding for the Wales Road overpass project. They were able to get support from the Transportation Review Advisory Council, which pledged to cover the shortfall in funding.
If council renews its contract for the traffic cameras, Stoner said he go to Columbus with Administrator Bob Anderson and Police Chief Tom Cairl to oppose House Bill 69.
“I would give it a shot,” said Stoner. “You got to make your voice heard.”