TRAFFIC CONTROLS Committee hears pitch for cameras

There is no cost to the city for the cameras.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Companies that provide and monitor cameras to catch motorists driving through red lights are interested in doing business in Youngstown.
Traffipax President Allen Shutt told city council's safety committee that his company -- based in Columbia, Md., and Germany -- is willing to provide digital cameras at certain intersections to target motorists who drive through red lights. The system would be installed and monitored by Signal Service Inc., a West Chester, Pa., company.
Traffipax recently made a similar presentation to Warren city officials. Warren officials made no commitment to the company.
Youngstown city officials said the idea sounded good in theory, but they are not ready to commit to the proposal either.
Costs involved
Traffipax would pay the cost of the cameras and installation, ranging from $60,000 to $160,000 each, Shutt said. Those who are caught would pay fines of about $75 with Traffipax and Signal Service keeping $20 to $55 of the fines collected, he said.
Councilman Mark Memmer, D-7th and a member of the safety committee, said the program would generate extra revenue for the city. But most importantly, it would help to reduce the number of traffic accidents in the city, he said.
Police Chief Robert Bush said he was concerned that his department wouldn't have the manpower to handle the increase in tickets for red lights. But Shutt said police officers would have only to approve the writing of the tickets, and be available to testify in court if cases are contested. Shutt said most people getting these tickets don't fight them in court.
How it works
The cameras monitor intersections, videotaping vehicles that drive through red lights, and providing close-ups of their license plates. Those going through red lights would be sent citations in the mail.
For the program to be enacted, city council must adopt a law to make those caught on tape going through red lights a nonmoving violation with no points on a motorist's driving record unless a police officer happened to be present when the incident occurred, Shutt said. Getting caught on tape going through a red light would be akin to a parking ticket, he said.
There are no communities in Ohio with this technology, but several have been approached to implement it, Shutt said.
There is a bill in the state Legislature to outlaw the technology.