St. Charles considers red light cameras
By Shane Anthony
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
St. Charles may join the ranks of others using cameras to catch red light runners.
The City Council heard presentations from American Traffic Solutions and Redflex Traffic Systems last week. Both companies have submitted proposals that would not cost the city any money up front for installing the equipment. Police Chief Tim Swope said he thought the proposals were nearly the same.
"I'm to the point of flipping a coin," he said.
Councilman Larry Muench, 2nd Ward, said he would like to have a side-by-side comparison of the two companies' equipment at an intersection in St. Charles to help make the decision. "I'd like to see them on the same intersection at the same time back-to-back to see what they look like," he said.
Red light cameras have drawn interest throughout the St. Louis area as more cities add them or consider adding them. Arnold started using them in October last year. Florissant
began using them earlier this year. St. Peters, which hired Redflex, has been using the cameras for about a month with drivers receiving only warnings. Tickets are expected to be issued soon.
Not all St. Charles City Council members support the idea. Councilman Mark Brown, 2nd Ward, said he thinks the cameras are a bad idea and serve only as a money maker. Eventually, he said, the cameras will wind up on every corner to generate more money.
"I think it's unfortunate we're heading in this direction," he said.
Rory Riddler, 1st Ward, said the cameras offer a more effective way of policing intersections than just having an officer parked nearby. The cameras offer multiple angles, he said, and evidence that can be reviewed. He also questioned the "Big Brother" complaints some in the community may have about the systems.
"These are public intersections where people would have no problems with a police officer sitting at the intersection," he said.
Red light cameras have sparked debate about their effectiveness and the reasons cities are interested in them. Even experts don't agree with one another. Some say the cameras reduce crashes at dangerous intersections, but others contend the cameras have little or no effect on crashes or can even increase rear-end accidents as motorists try to avoid receiving a ticket.
Also, some have questioned enforcement of the tickets, even though some cameras now are designed to take a picture of the motorist who drives through the red light.
In St. Charles, ATS has proposed three payment options. One would be a flat fee of $5,495 per month. A second would send the full amount of the fine to the company for each day's first three violations, with the company collecting $20 from the day's additional tickets. In the third option, the company would collect $48.50 each for the first 90 tickets, $38.50 from the next 90 and $28.50 from additional tickets. The last two options are based on a total fine of $74.50.
Redflex offered the same prices as the tiered proposal from ATS.
St. Charles council members asked Swope where he thought cameras might be used in St. Charles. Swope said intersections along Highway 94 present problems, as do those on Zumbehl Road.
Council members asked Swope to prepare information on the most dangerous intersections and a breakdown of the types of crashes and injuries.