St. Louis starts snapping scofflaw drivers
By Harry Levins
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Heads up: St. Louis is turning on the first of its red-light cameras today.
They're at the intersection of Hampton and Wilson avenues and Hampton and Chippewa Street.
Soon to follow will be the intersection of Kingshighway and Natural Bridge Avenue, with several more set after that.
But the city is giving scofflaw drivers a month's grace period. Until March 19, anybody photographed zipping through a red light will get a warning instead of a citation.
Why the two Hampton intersections? Police say that according to the most recent statistics from the Missouri Highway Patrol (for 2005), those intersections were the scene of 76 accidents -- most of them caused by drivers sailing through a red light.
Now, a car running a red light will trigger a sensor in the camera. The camera will take two digital photos documenting the deed.
Police will get the license number from the photos and mail copies -- and a citation -- to the car's owner. Although offenders must pay a fine and court costs, their records will not be affected.
Police Chief Joseph Mokwa said today in announcing the start of the program, "All too often, our citizens are being critically and sometimes fatally injured by people failing to obey traffic signals."
He added: "I am hoping the cameras will send a clear message to motorists to pay attention and follow traffic signals."
Similar cameras are already in operation in Florissant, Hazelwood, Brentwood and Creve Coeur. (Stlouisx50 adds..... St. Peters, Wentzville, St. Charles) as well