Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Apr. 10, 2013 Written by Ohio Rep. Ron Hood
Most drivers consider them a nuisance, but the use of red light and speed cameras also raises serious concerns regarding public safety and our Constitution. Nine other states have already banned the use of red-light cameras and 12 have outlawed cameras used for speeding violations.
House Bill 69, a bill being considered in the Ohio House of Representatives, would prohibit municipal corporations, counties, townships and the State Highway Patrol from using traffic law photo-monitoring devices in Ohio. The ban would apply to cameras monitoring both speed and traffic lights.
I do not believe this is an issue that divides the two political parties. Of the two original cosponsors of the bill, one was a Republican, the other a Democrat. Because I support the mission of the legislation, I have also signed on as a cosponsor.
The right to due process, which is explicitly stated in the Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights, has been a cornerstone of our legal system since our nation’s founding. But as is too often the case with red-light cameras, drivers are presumed guilty and then are forced to prove their innocence. Furthermore, drivers who are cited by traffic cameras are unable to face their accuser.
Traffic cameras have not produced positive results from a public safety standpoint either. A February Wall Street Journal article cited conflicting data for red light camera safety results. It reported that “Los Angeles, Philadelphia and St. Petersburg, Fla. have found that crashes increased at intersections where cameras are installed.”
Several other studies have shown an increase in rear-end accidents at intersections, in some cases by as much as 54 percent. A 2004 study conducted by North Carolina A&T University stated: “Our findings are more pessimistic, finding no change in angle accidents and large increases in rear-end crashes and many other types of crashes relative to other intersections.”
Voters in Heath, banned red light cameras in 2009. They were initially installed to reduce accidents. In the first month after being installed, though, 10 traffic robots monitoring six intersections resulted in the issuance of more than 12,500 tickets. That averaged out to more than three tickets per household — just in the first month!
That illustrates another unfortunate reality: traffic cameras often are installed as a money-grab for local governments. The primary purpose of issuing fines should be to punish people who violate the law, not as a source of revenue.
Rep. Hood may be reached by calling 614-466-1464, emailing, or writing to State Representative Ron Hood, 77 S. High St., Columbus, Ohio 43215.

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