DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) - Dayton's police chief is defending the use of red light cameras as a ban is considered in the state legislature. In fact, the Ohio House of Representatives just passed legislation to ban the use of the cameras.
The bill would ban speed and red light cameras in Ohio, although it would still allow the use in school zones.
Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl says the number of accidents at ten intersections with red light cameras continues to drop. That he says is a key reason why the cameras should stay up and running.
"We have evidence that it does reduce accidents. To lose this capability at the same time seeing cuts in staffing compromises our ability to have a safe, driveable environment," said Chief Richard Biehl, Dayton Police Department.
The City of Dayton has a projected revenue of $1.7 million from use of the cameras so far this year.
We asked the city for comment. It sent 2 NEWS the following statement:
"The City of Dayton considers photo enforcement to be a safety matter first and foremost. The number of accidents at the 10 intersections with red light cameras continues to drop, indicating the effectiveness of the cameras as a safety measure and as a means of changing driver behavior. In 2011 there were 105 accidents, and in 2012 there were 78. Accidents at the 10 intersections as a percentage of accidents citywide declined from 8.2 percent in 1998 to 5.7 percent in 2011. Preliminary data from 2012 show the trend continuing.
The City of Dayton has projected net revenue of $1.7 million from red light and speed enforcement cameras in 2013 (through May, the net was $715,200). This anticipated total for 2013 is down from $2.5 million in 2012. This drop is for a couple of reasons: declining number of accidents and citations (which is what we want to see); and the fact that in 2012 there was a concerted attempt to collect previously uncollected fines, plus late fees, etc. Even so, the $1.7 million represents only about one percent of the City's total General Fund budget, so there should be no illusion that we are solving the City's budget challenges through photo enforcement fines.
The City has not yet budgeted anticipated revenues for 2014. However, fines collected from violations go into the General Fund which supports many services including public safety. It is far too early however to speculate on how services might be affected by the loss of that revenue.
The bottom line is that the cameras have made a big difference in reducing the number of accidents, not just at their targeted intersections, but city-wide. Because drivers are re-learning good driving habits at intersections with cameras, they become better, more defensive drivers all the time. The evidence is clear that the cameras help prevent property damage, avoid injuries, and save lives, all while making Police Officers more efficient and responsive to the community."
The Ohio House passed the legislation late Wednesday afternoon, but it is unlikely to clear the Ohio Senate before legislators go on summer break.
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