Ohio: Senate Committee Passes Speed Camera Ban
Ohio legislature moves closer to an effective ban on speed cameras and severe restrictions on red light camera use.
Rep. Jim RaussenAn Ohio state Senate committee voted this week in favor of legislation that would effectively ban speed cameras in the state and impose costly restrictions on the use of red light cameras. Representative Jim Raussen (R-Springdale) had introduced the bill to, in effect, ban both types of photo enforcement in a measure overwhelmingly adopted by the House last year. The Senate committee, however, modified Raussen's bill to allow red light cameras but remove a few of the existing high-profit incentives to use the devices.
The Senate bill bans the use of speed cameras unless a police officer witnesses the incident and personally tickets the motorist responsible at the time of the incident. It also ends the current practice of paying camera vendors a cut of the revenue generated, offering an incentive to trap as many motorists as possible. Instead, the proposal mandates flat-rate contracts. The bill also prohibits private vendors from reviewing photographs to determine guilt, a change that will substantially increase the cost of ticket programs as police would have to assume this function. The measure also forces city to adopt standardized yellow signal timing set by the Ohio Department of Transportation.
If after two years a red light camera produces an increase in accidents at a particular intersection, the city would have to remove it. This provision would have resulted in the eventual removal of most of the red light cameras in Washington, DC and San Diego, California. The bill also establishes a bicameral legislative traffic law photo-enforcement study committee to hear from the public and interested parties and make recommendations within six months.
The measure now heads to the Senate floor for a vote. Differences between the House and Senate versions would need to be reconciled in a conference committee before becoming law. In March, West Virginia became the latest state to ban all forms of photo enforcement.