Ohio bill to restrict traffic cameras gets veto

| 1/9/2007

In his final act as Ohio governor, Bob Taft vetoed a bill that would have imposed restrictions on the use of automated cameras at intersections throughout the state. Officials in several cities called for the veto.

Taft vetoed the bill Jan. 5 - two days before he left office. The veto cannot be overridden because the Legislature that approved the bill adjourned at the end of 2006.

The bill - HB56 - would have effectively banned cameras in the state used to catch speeders, unless they are posted in active school zones with flashing yellow lights.

It also would have allowed 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 have been required to identify who was behind the wheel.

A provision in the bill required cities to identify offending drivers without using photographs from the cameras.

Mayors in Cleveland and Columbus said the bill violated cities' rights to self govern, The Associated Press reported. Taft shared the same concerns.

"I can discern no strong public policy that warrants this sweeping preemption of local control over our local streets," Taft said in his veto message.

The bill also prohibited the use of portable cameras, as well as ended the practice of paying camera vendors a portion of the fine amount. Instead, vendors would have received flat-rate contracts.

Supporters said 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.

The effort to ban traffic cameras can be brought back before lawmakers for the session that began Jan. 2.