Watch your speed while in Heath, Ohio

This is a discussion on Watch your speed while in Heath, Ohio within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; Heath, Ohio officials are using ticket-cameras to solve their budget problems. The small town has a population of only 8,500. Yet when they installed traffic-cameras ...

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Thread: Watch your speed while in Heath, Ohio

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array HKinNY's Avatar
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    Watch your speed while in Heath, Ohio

    Heath, Ohio officials are using ticket-cameras to solve their budget problems. The small town has a population of only 8,500. Yet when they installed traffic-cameras to catch red light runners at six intersections, the cameras cranked out 10,000 citations in just the first four weeks. That's 1.18 tickets per citizen! A more complete analysis of the ticketing will likely show that the yellow light interval was shortened, and that tickets were given for making a right turn on red. Heath Officials have finally admitted that the cameras were issuing too many tickets and were discussing how to ease up on the situation. Nutz sez, "The answer is simple. Make the yellow interval longer!"

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    Hitch,
    A few for profit corporations have been going around the country selling small cities on the idea of red light cameras. At first look these seem like a great idea, the city makes money, the company makes money, there is a sharp disincentive to folks running red lights. Then, the problems start. They are more than simple problems that could be fixed by increasing the yellow.

    Our city bought the line, installed cameras, and followed policies which ultimately enraged the local population. A petition was circulated and the was city obligated to put the presence of red light cameras up for a vote.

    Last election day (a couple weeks back) the people voted narrowly to have the city break its contract with the company that installed the cameras.

    The city initially said it would abide by the election results. Then, two men [affiliated with the camera company?] went to court asserting that the petition to hold the election was in the form of a "referendum" rather than an "initiative" and as (here) a referendum must take place 20 days after a law has been passed, they claimed the vote was invalid.

    In court, the City Attorney made little effort to defend the city's actions in putting the item on the ballot, and left the distinct impression with many that the whole thing (the challenge to the election) was a pre-planned game engineered by the city and the red light camera company so the city would not have to listen to the people.

    Now the City Manager is saying that the cameras will go no matter what the court says about the election.

    The council members are all now saying the cameras will go--but only because they will be gone in May's election if they don't take that position. Yet, notwithstanding the election results, and the fact that the cameras were to have been removed within 8 days of the election results being certified, they are still up and issuing tickets.

    Done right, red light cameras can be a great enforcement tool and incentive to good driving. Sadly, these tools are seldom put in place for the sated purpose, law enforcement, but for monetary gain of both the city and the private company which owns the system.

    Yes Hitch, adding yellow time would help. But there needs to be other things done as well to make red light cameras an acceptable tool to the voters.

    There must be a meaningful appeal process.
    The ticket somehow needs to go to the driver and not the owner of the vehicle.
    There must be a way to handle right turns made on red.
    There must be leeway for cars that have stopped but the front wheels are a few inches forward of the white line.

    Maybe the debacle in College Station will teach the camera companies something, and teach some other city leaders something, but I doubt it. The whole deal is too much about money instead of safety.

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    Member Array 1SGCasey's Avatar
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    Boy, I hope my town selectmen don't see this. They'd install a traffic light!
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    Policing for profit is a terrible idea, how these things get past the public is beyond me.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    My old department has both red light and speed cameras. The stated purpose was to get people to slow down and to save lives. Funny how they started whining when people did slow down and ticket revenues dropped! And now a law has been passed that the citations must be signed by a sworn police officer. Now they have to figure out what to do with the dozen or so civilian employees that work in the office.
    Our red light cameras only took pictures if you entered the intersection above a certain speed. They also took multiple pictures so the technicians could plainly see if you went straight through the intersection, or stopped, or turned. The pictures showed the location, date and time, light cycle, and how long the light was on yellow and how long it had been red when the vehicle entered the intersection.
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