Redflex Traffic Systems pitched its traffic-camera devices to 25 city residents at City Hall Thursday. Councilman Thomas West, D-2, says he’ll push for a pilot program next month.
As a video loop of high-speed car collisions played on the projection screen in City Council chambers, Councilman Thomas West attempted to sell to his constituents a traffic-camera plan he has been unable to sell to a majority of his council colleagues.
“This is a win-win for us,” West told about 25 residents who turned out for a ward meeting and the traffic-camera presentation that followed. “We’ve just got to have seven (council members) to support it.”
West, D-2, said Thursday that the three pieces of legislation comprising his traffic-camera proposal likely will be put in front of council next month.
It’s the third go at trying to get motorists to stop and slow down by using traffic cameras. A five-year proposal by Mayor William J. Healy II was defeated by council 7-5 in September. A similar plan was rejected in 2009.
West wants the city to contract with Redflex Traffic Systems of Phoenix, Ariz., on a three-year pilot program. Redflex cameras are used in several other Ohio cities, including Columbus and Dayton. Youngstown also recently signed a contract with the company.
Under the program, cameras would be placed at the intersections of Tuscarawas Street W and Belden Avenue and at Market Avenue N and 12th Street — the city’s most dangerous intersection — or at school zones in the city or both.
Redflex would cover the cost of installing the systems, which run about $100,000 per intersection, maintain them, and issue and collect fines. The city would make the final determination on violations.
Violators could view 12-second video clips online, showing the six seconds before and after the violation, which could be appealed. Police also would have 24-hour access to the video system if, for example, they need to obtain the license plate number of a crime suspect.
The $100 civil penalty would have no impact on motorists’ insurance or result in points on their driver’s licenses. The city would receive 60 percent of the revenue.
West wants to put the revenue into two yet-to-be-established funds: the Guy Mack Safety Fund, which would help the city hire new police officers and pay for bicycle patrols, and the Joe Carbenia Neighborhood Safety Fund, which would help neighborhood associations establish safety programs.
Bob Riebe, regional sales director for Redflex, said intersections would be marked to notify motorists of the cameras. Offenders would receive only a warning during the first 30 days. He said the number of traffic accidents typically drops by 65 percent.
“People changed their behavior once they knew they were going to be held accountable for it,” Riebe said.
But for all the benefits proponents have touted, the idea of positioning high-resolution video and still cameras at dangerous intersections to capture speeding motorists and red-light runners has led to accusations of an overreaching government and talk of “Big Brother.”
Page 2 of 2 - “Some people are just adamant and they try to find everything against it. They talk about Big Brother. Ask Mitt Romney about Big Brother,” West said, referring to the former Republican presidential candidate.
“That 47 percent (comment) came from a camera. Big Brother is here to stay. As long as I’ve got my iPhone or whatever else, they can catch you anywhere and everywhere.
“... This here,” he said of the traffic cameras, “is helping our children.”
Pamela Huth, a citizen attending the session who has a commercial driver’s license, said the system doesn’t take into account differences between a vehicle’s actual speed and a reading on a speedometer.
“There’s too many reliability issues,” Huth said.