A bill halfway through the Ohio statehouse would outlaw the use of automated cameras in the state.
Red-light cameras are used in 11 communities throughout Ohio. Speed cameras are posted in 15 communities.
The House voted 61-32 on Wednesday, June 26, to send a bill to the Senate that would prohibit use of the devices to ticket drivers for running red lights and speeding.
Supporters question whether use of the technology is simply a “money grab.” They cite research that shows traffic incidents actually increased at intersections posted with cameras.
“Let’s be candid about the purpose of these cameras. Their main goal is to generate revenue,” Rep. Ron Maag, R-Lebanon, said during floor discussion on the bill.
Rep. Michael Curtin, D-Columbus, said that the cameras reduce wrecks. He cited figures that show side impact crashes drop significantly at affected intersections.
Maag said “that assessment is either misguided or manufactured to justify the continued use of these intrusive devices.”
Critics of the technology say the change would prevent abuses in towns such as Elmwood Place, located in Hamilton County. The village of about 2,000 residents reportedly issued 20,000 speeding violations during a two-week time period a year ago.
Rep. Ross McGregor, R-Springfield, acknowledged that there have been abuses to how the technology is used in the state.
“It needs to be addressed. But I don’t think doing away with (automated enforcement) entirely is the appropriate measure,” McGregor said.
He would prefer to see camera use be regulated to make sure the same standards are enforced throughout the state. Otherwise, “we’re blowing a big hole in local government budgets. That’s just a fact.”
Maag said that lawmakers should settle for nothing short of a complete ban.
“No amount of regulation can justify the continued use of these machines.”
A change made to the bill in committee would allow speed cameras to be used in school zones during restricted-speed hours. A police officer would be required to be present at the site.
The bill – HB69 – awaits assignment to committee in the Senate.
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