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  1. #1
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    Jun 2005

    Default MO - Traffic cameras get green light in St. Peters

    Traffic cameras get green light in St. Peters
    By Tim Bryant


    A divided board of aldermen authorized installation of an automated camera system at about six busy intersections to catch motorists running red lights.

    At a meeting Thursday night, aldermen voted 5-3 to proceed with the installation. By a 6-2 vote, aldermen passed an ordinance directing City Administrator Bill Charnisky to negotiate a contract with Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. to install and operate the system. A firm date for the system's operation has yet to be set.

    Alderman Jerry Hollingsworth, the system's main backer, said cameras that catch red-light runners are the same, in principle, as surveillance cameras businesses use to identify robbers.

    "I think you surrender your privacy issues when you break the law," Hollingsworth said.

    Alderman Bruce Holt, who voted against the ordinance, said, "I still think we're talking 'Big Brother' stuff."

    Also voting no were aldermen Len Pagano and Patrick Barclay, who said two-thirds of those who contacted him opposed the cameras. After voting against authorizing the system, Pagano voted for an ordinance providing for Redflex to operate the system.

    In the system, a vehicle entering an intersection against a red light activates the camera to take a photo of the vehicle's license plate and, in some cases, the driver as well. A ticket is then mailed to the vehicle's owner.

    In St. Peters, Redflex will collect a varying percentage of the fines paid, depending on the number of tickets issued.

    Temporary sign rules

    Aldermen also discussed new regulations on the size of temporary roadside signs, especially those related to political campaigns. Hollingsworth called large political signs along residential streets "horribly obnoxious."

    He said he wants to restrict the signs to 4 square feet in residential areas and 16 square feet in commercial areas. The proposed sizes are considerably smaller than those the city allows now.

    Randy Weber, the city's attorney, said he would study legal issues related to such restrictions and report back to the board.

    "I really feel we need some direction here," said Pagano, who raised the issue.

    Barclay also sought a speed-limit reduction for McClay Road between Jungermann and Thoele roads. He said limited sight distances from side street intersections merit a reduction to 30 mph from 35 mph. But Tim Myers, a city engineer, said McClay's design is suitable for the current speed limit, adding that neither speeding nor sight distance were related to the three traffic accidents reported in the area in the past three years.

    Barclay got little support for the speed-limit reduction but persuaded aldermen to agree to consider putting up "no tolerance" signs warning motorists that police will strictly enforce the current speed limit.
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  2. #2
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    Join Date
    Jun 2005


    Red-light cameras coming soon
    Amanda C. Tinnin
    Of the Suburban Journals
    St. Peters Journal


    Motorists could see red-light cameras in St. Peters before the end of this year.

    Maj. Mike Townsend of the St. Peters Police Department has been leading the project to install red-light photo enforcement camera systems at various intersections in the city. He expects the city soon will finalize and sign the contract with Redflex Traffic Systems to install the camera systems and hopes the first system will be operational in six months.

    Townsend said the city has looked at several intersections, but does not yet have a final list where the camera systems will be installed.

    "There's still some groundwork to do," he said. "We have a preliminary study done by Redflex."

    Townsend said Mexico Road intersections with Mid Rivers Mall Drive and Kimberly Lane, as well as Highway 94's intersections with Harvester and Central School roads have been identified as possible intersections for red-light cameras.

    Initially, the city's proposal called for camera systems at six intersections, but it is possible cameras could be installed at more than six.

    Redflex installs systems based on approaches to an intersection. Because most intersections have four approaches, Townsend said the proposal was revised to include systems at 24 approaches. If some intersection don't need four camera systems, then the 24 systems could be used to cover more than six intersections.

    A preliminary study at the intersection of Mexico Road and Kimberly Lane, for example, indicated only the Mexico Road traffic was committing violations and thus only two systems, instead of four, would be needed at that intersection.

    When the systems are installed, the cameras would photograph both the rear license plate and the driver of the vehicle running a red light. The owner of the car would receive a ticket in the mail after an officer checks a few details.

    "We're looking for a gender match," Townsend said. "That will be the first test."

    If the car is registered to a man, but a woman is driving, Townsend said no citation would be mailed.

    In Missouri, officers must provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

    "That's why in St. Peters we thought it was absolutely necessary that we capture a picture of that driver and match the gender," Townsend said. "You also want to make sure the license is registered to the same make and model that appears there. The other step is to verify that, in fact, as you're watching the video, a violation did occur."

    Townsend said in recent months people have expressed concerns about the possibility of rear-end collisions resulting from drivers slamming on their brakes at stoplights.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 206,000 accidents resulted in 2003 from motorists running red lights. Those crashes resulted in 934 fatalities and 176,000 injuries.

    In April 2005, the Federal Highway Administration released a safety evaluation of red light cameras that determined right-angle crashes decreased significantly, but rear-end crashes increased as a result of red light cameras.

    Data indicated a 24.6 percent reduction in total right-angle crashes and a 15.7 percent reduction in right-angle injury crashes with the use of red light cameras.

    The study also found total rear-end crashes increased by 14.9 percent, and rear-end injury crashes increased by 24 percent.

    But the report also evaluated what additional factors could be implemented to reduce both red light running as well as rear-end collisions at intersections.

    Th study found that a fine plus points against the driver's license got better results than a fine-only penalty.

    A person caught running a red light in St. Peters, however, will receive a ticket for a non-moving violation and only be fined. In Missouri, red light cameras are not recognized by the state, so points cannot be assessed against the license.

    The report also found cities that publicized the red-light cameras and posted warning signs notifying motorists of the camera enforcement not just at the intersection, but at the city limits had fewer accidents.

    Townsend said the city plans to install signs alerting motorists of the cameras.

    "That's one of the most important things we've found doing our research," he said. "It's important for us to get signs up well in advance of our intersections because we don't want to panic our drivers."

    Amanda C. Tinnin can be reached at
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  3. #3
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    Join Date
    Jun 2005


    St. Peters is selecting red-light camera sites
    By Tim Bryant

    ST. PETERS -- From numerous busy intersections along Mid Rivers Mall Drive, Highway 94 and elsewhere, officials will pick six locations for automated cameras designed to catch drivers who run red lights.

    Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., the company that will install the cameras, has discovered that at some locations examined, more than 30 drivers ran lights in a 12-hour period, police said.

    Intersections under examination include:

    Highway 94 at Harvester Road.

    Highway94 at Jungermann Road.

    Highway 94 at Central School Road.

    Mid Rivers Mall Drive at Mexico Road.

    Mid Rivers Mall Drive atMcMenamy Road.

    Mexico Road at Cave Springs Boulevard

    Mexico Road at Kimberly Lane.

    Intersections near some schools also are being evaluated.

    "The key to this is making the public aware the cameras are out there and getting voluntary compliance" with traffic signals, said Assistant Police Chief Mike Townsend. "We want people to know where the cameras are and have them stop when the signal is red."

    Redflex will pay to install the camera system and will collect a percentage of the fines paid. The company's take will vary, depending on the number of citations paid. City officials anticipate Redflex will collect the lowest percentage specified in the agreement, which gives the company $28.50, or 38 percent, of each $75 ticket paid.

    Different consequences await drivers caught running red lights by a police officer or by overhead cameras, which could be in operation by the end of the year.

    A violator nabbed by an officer faces a fine and points against his or her drivers license. As they accumulate, points typically lead to higher car insurance premiums and can result in license suspension or revocation.

    Red-light runners caught by cameras will be assessed fines but will escape points on their licenses. The reason results from a bit of city maneuvering to comply with state law.

    Police officers who catch red-light runners issue them tickets for moving violations, which produce points. Drivers often avoid points by hiring a lawyer to negotiate with a prosecutor to amend the citation to a non-moving violation. Drivers still pay fines and costs, including lawyer fees, but keep points off their licenses.

    St. Peters will treat red-light tickets from the cameras as non-moving violations, meaning no points will be assessed. Townsend said the Board of Aldermen made "a policy decision" not to require points on tickets resulting from red-light cameras.

    Under state law, municipal traffic tickets treated as non-moving violations are not reported to the Missouri Department of Revenue, the agency in charge of assessing points against drivers licenses, Townsend said.

    "This whole thing is designed to reduce the number of violations at intersections," he added.

    Aldermen voted 5-3 on June 8 to proceed with the installation of a red-light camera system to cover six intersections. Aldermen also authorized City Administrator Bill Charnisky to work out details of the city's agreement with Redflex, of Scottsdale, Ariz.

    St. Peters is joining Arnold and Florissant in using red-light cameras in the St. Louis area. The St. John City Council voted last month to install a system, and St. Charles is considering one.

    Arguments over the cameras are similar wherever they are discussed. Opponents consider them unblinking, around-the-clock invasions of privacy. Opponents also contend the cameras represent little more than municipal money grabs.

    Supporters contend that cameras reduce the number of traffic crashes and free police officers for other duties. Alderman Jerry Hollingsworth and other camera backers say drivers who disobey traffic signals have no expectation of privacy, just as robbers shouldn't be surprised when their faces show up on videos made by bank and store surveillance cameras.

    Red-light camera systems work like this:

    A vehicle entering an intersection after the signal turns red triggers an automated camera that takes photos. Police review the images and, where a citation is warranted, mail a ticket to the vehicle's owner.

    The St. Peters system will produce images of a car's front and rear license plates, plus the driver's face. With some exceptions, tickets will be sent to the vehicle's owner.

    Townsend said no ticket will be issued if the vehicle is registered to a woman but photos show a man behind the wheel or for a car registered to a man but driven by a woman. People issued tickets will be directed to a secure Web site that will contain images - including a brief video - of the red-light violation.

    "We have to show proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the person ticketed was driving the vehicle at the time of the violation," Townsend said.
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  4. #4
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    Jun 2005


    Red-light cameras are go in St. Peters
    Tickets won't carry fine until Dec. 17

    By Steve Pokin
    Saturday, November 18, 2006 7:41 PM CST

    Drivers beware! The St. Peters red-light cameras are watching. They were turned on Thursday at three intersections.

    But for 30 days those caught red-handed running red lights by the camera's eye will receive only a warning. Dec. 17 will be the first day violators will feel it in their pocket book. That's when police will start dispensing $70 tickets through the mail.

    Of course, patrol officers who view an offense are free to continue to write tickets too for red-light runners. Those caught by police also are at risk of having points assessed against their driver's license; those caught by the cameras are not.

    The cameras are at eastbound Mexico Road at Cave Springs Boulevard; westbound Mexico at Jungermann Road; and southbound Mid Rivers Mall Drive at Suemandy Drive.

    The cameras are triggered when a driver enters the intersection on a red light, said Maj. Mike Townsend of the St. Peters Police Department.
    "If you enter on yellow you will not trigger it," he said.

    The city plans to add two more cameras, possibly by February. They will be at westbound Highway 94 at Jungermann and at Highway 94 (both directions) and Central School Road. These cameras will be placed on traffic signals operated by the Missouri Department of Transportation.

    The city will wait until the program has been operating for a while before deciding whether to add a sixth camera, possibly at Highway 94 and Kisker Road, Townsend said.

    The St. Peters Board of Aldermen voted 5-3 in June to approve red-light cameras. The contract was awarded to Redlfex Traffic Systems Inc., a Scottsdale, Ariz., company.

    City officials believe the cameras will increase safety by reducing the number of drivers who disregard red lights. Critics believe the real lure is increased city revenue.

    Redflex receives a percentage of fines paid. That percentage varies, said Townsend. It lowers as the number of tickets at an intersection increases, he said.

    Steve Pokin can be contacted at
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