Ohio traffic camera bill moves to governor

| 12/18/2006

A bill to impose restrictions on the use of automated cameras at intersections throughout Ohio is headed to Gov. Bob Taft’s desk. Officials in several cities are hopeful the governor will veto the effort.

The House voted 67-30 Dec. 12 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. The Senate approved the bill earlier this month.

Sponsored by Rep. Jim Raussen, R-Springdale, the bill also would allow vehicle owners who receive citations in the mail to avoid paying fines by signing affidavits that they weren’t driving at the time. Owners of vehicles wouldn’t be required to identify who was behind the wheel.

A provision in the bill – HB56 – would require cities to identify offending drivers without using photographs from the cameras.

Mayors in Cleveland and Columbus said the bill violates cities’ rights to govern themselves, The Associated Press reported.

The bill also 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.

Taft has not indicated whether he will sign the bill, veto it or let it become law without his signature, The AP reported.