After more than 10 years of having to worry about red light cameras at many Ohio intersections, a new law may eliminate the worry for residents. Camera images alone may no longer result in vehicle owners being fined for traffic violations through the mail. Instead, police may have to actually witness the violation before issuing the ticket to the driver.
In the beginning, the cameras were installed in order to decrease the number of serious crashes that were allegedly caused by drivers running red lights. However, once drivers became aware of the devices, the number of tickets issued declined, along with the lucrative cash flow from the related fines. Officials then installed additional devices in a purported attempt to catch speeders and increase safety, which also led to increased revenues.
Once again, drivers changed their habits in the locations where cameras were in place. Officials then placed cameras at railroad crossings and other locations. As before, the stated reason was to increase safety, but, in most cases, there was no evidence that any safety studies were conducted prior to the installation of the cameras, even though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommended such studies be performed at intersections that are identified as being problematic.
Along with the proposed bill that states an officer must witness any traffic violations before issuing a citation, there is a case before the Ohio Supreme Court that could effectively banish the use of red light cameras altogether. Drivers who are issued citations for alleged violations do have the right to challenge the tickets, as even one violation can impact one's driving record and insurance rates. In addition, there are knowledgeable professionals who can work with drivers to help defend them when they face penalties.
Source: watchdog.org, "What's next if Ohio ends red light cameras?", Maggie Thurber, Nov. 21, 2014