Monday, October 22, 2012

Local traffic speed-control camera controversies

The idea behind taking pictures of drivers breaking the speed limit, in this country at least, dates back to at least 1905, Wikipedia's article on the subject says, with the first systems being introduced in the late 1960s using film cameras to take pictures. The first red light camera was introduced in 1965; first radar use in 1971, and the first mobile speed traffic camera in 1982.

The article continues by noting that "the first speed camera systems in the USA were in Friendswood, Texas in 1986 and La Marque, Texas in 1987, with neither program lasting more than a few months before public pressure forced them to be dropped."

Their popularity's no better in the tri-state or neighboring communities with the Village of Elmwood being most notable this past month or so. this morning notes that "Elmwood's cameras are the first in Hamilton County, which is coming a little late to the speed camera party. Other cities throughout the state – and, indeed, the country – have had the cameras in place for years, and other Ohio cities – including Cleveland, Dayton, Columbus and Toledo – have both red-light and speed cameras, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute. Red-light cameras came up in Cincinnati in 2008, but the city became the first in the country to block photo monitoring devices with a charter amendment passed by voters."

 Information from the Governors' Highway Safety Association indicates "13 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands have speed cameras currently operating in at least one location. 12 states have passed laws that prohibit (with very narrow exceptions) the use of speed cameras. with 29 states having no law addressing speed cameras. All other states either permit the use of speed cameras (2 + D.C.) or limit their use by location or other criteria (7 + U.S. Virgin Islands)."’s article relates that neither Ohio, Kentucky, nor Indiana has either set standards or passed laws dealing with issues such as how much a police agency can charge and whether the car's driver or owner gets the ticket for red-light and speed camera violations.

  The article does indicate, though, that the cameras are legal and enforceable based on the Ohio Supreme Court's 2008 decision in Mendenhall v Akron, where the Court "accepted a certified issue by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division determining 'Whether a municipality had the power under home rule to enact civil penalties for the offense of violating a traffic signal light or for the offense of speeding, both of which are criminal offenses under the Ohio Revised Code.' Although, as certified by the federal court, the issue embraces both speed-limit and red-light enforcement, the record here deals with a single city ordinance involving enforcement of speed limits. We will therefore confine our analysis to comparing the ordinance with the state statute dealing with speed regulations, acknowledging, however, that the same analysis will dispose of questions concerning red-light cameras..."

 As of last May, however, the Ohio Supreme Court maintains that position.

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