Friday, May 16, 2008

Red Light Cameras

As many of you know, the City of Cincinnati has proposed adding Red Light Cameras to our traffic lights. Under this plan, those who "run" a red traffic light would be photographed and automatically cited for a violation of the traffic law. These cameras are controversial and many people are opposed.

Last night, the Hamilton County Republican Party Policy Committee voted unanimously to oppose Red Light Cameras in the City of Cincinnati. To that end, we are supporting the petition drive and the referendum that is being sought to place this issue before the voters. Simply put, the Hamilton County Republican Party is opposed to Red Light Cameras.

Our policy committee cited several reasons for its opposition. A few of the key reasons are outlined below:

1. The public rightfully resents Red Light Cameras. Having dozens or hundreds of new government cameras monitor their behavior -- for whatever reason -- is an unneeded intrusion into our lives.

2. The issue of Red Light Cameras is about raising more revenue for the City on the backs of hardworking taxpayers. Each time the issue is raised, it comes up at budget time. The cameras are not addressing a pressing public safety issue--it is addressing a need for revenue.

3. The Red Light Cameras represent an abandonment of traditional notions of due process. The City ordinance contains a presumption of guilt, instead of innocence. There is no right to subpoena witnesses in one's defense. Furthermore, Cincinnati's Red Light Camera ordinance requires an accused to pay the fine before he ever gets his day in court to defend himself.

4. Cincinnati's Red Light Camera scheme will likely result in large profits for the camera corporation and this is an intrusion of private business into a government law enforcement function. Although Cincinnati's contract is not finalized, in every other city in which these have been adopted, profits are split with private corporations and punishment of the citizenry is motivated by profit not public concerns.

5. Under the Red Light Camera scheme, the owner of a car is charged with a violation even if he is not behind the wheel when a red light is supposedly run.

6. Traffic safety professionals broadly have concluded that red light cameras really don't improve public safety. Rather, while there is some decrease in "t-Bone" accidents (side impacts), there is a marked increase in rear-end accidents as drivers who see warning signs for the cameras slam on their brakes, as another motorist is approaching from the rear.

7. Finally, Cincinnati businesses are already at a competitive disadvantage with high tax rates and the ravages of deteriorated neighborhoods. The petty indignities that these Red Light Cameras pile upon unsuspecting visitors will further discourage people to shop and recreate in Cincinnati.