Ohio traffic camera bill nears passage

| 12/8/2006

A bill to impose restrictions on the use of automated cameras at intersections throughout Ohio is one step closer to becoming law.

The Ohio Senate voted 20-11 Wednesday, Dec. 6, to approve a bill that would effectively ban cameras in the state used to catch speeders, unless they are posted in active school zones with flashing yellow lights. Cameras used to track red-light runners wouldn't be affected.

Its next stop is the House for approval of changes. If approved there, the bill - HB56 - would move to Gov. Bob Taft's office.

Removed from the bill was a provision the House previously approved to require a police officer to be present to personally witness a speeding violation captured on camera.

Sponsored by Rep. Jim Raussen, R-Springfield, the bill would prohibit the use of portable cameras, as well as end the practice of paying camera vendors a portion of the fine amount. Instead, vendors would receive flat-rate contracts.

Supporters say the changes would alleviate concerns that the devices are being used primarily as a revenue generator for cities and other jurisdictions.

Raussen said studies have also indicated that the cameras do not reduce accidents.

A study paid for by the U.S. Department of Transportation showed rear-end crashes actually increased in cities with red-light cameras, as motorists stopped abruptly at yellow lights to avoid tickets.

A provision in the bill is intended to address concerns that the cameras do more harm than good. It would require that if, after 12 months, accidents don't decrease at intersections with the cameras, they must be removed.