The city's newest red-light cameras lit up Columbus intersections - and lightened drivers' wallets - last year. Red-light runners boosted the city's coffers in 2012 by $2.1 million - more than the previous two years combined - as a record number of citations resulted in $95 fines.
The city’s newest red-light cameras lit up Columbus intersections — and lightened drivers’ wallets — last year.
Red-light runners boosted the city’s coffers in 2012 by $2.1 million — more than the previous two years combined — as a record number of citations resulted in $95 fines. Fines totaled about $1.1 million in 2011.
The city, though, says its program is designed to reduce crashes at its most-dangerous intersections — not to make money. Columbus added 20 cameras over the past two years and now has 38, said Amanda Ford, spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Public Safety.
“Every intersection is based on crash data,” she said. “The whole goal is to change driver behavior to make intersections safer.”
Crashes at the first 18 intersections to receive cameras have dropped by more than 75 percent each year between 2008 and 2011.
Columbus added 12 cameras in 2011 and eight more last year. Redflex Traffic Systems foots the bill to install and monitor the cameras, and it splits fines with the city.
Ford said the city targets intersections that have had a large number of right-angle crashes, those most commonly associated with red-light runners.
The city issued 64,824 citations last year, more than double the 28,665 issued in 2011. Twenty-nine percent of those were for violations at the original 18 intersections.
Columbus keeps 62 percent of revenue from its first 18 cameras and 55 percent from those installed in 2011 and 2012. Money collected from the cameras has been used to buy vehicles and support special investigations, Ford said.
The city does not plan to add cameras, she said.
Some state legislators want to eliminate them. Reps. Ron Maag, R-Salem Township, and Dale Mallory, D-Cincinnati, recently introduced a bill that would ban cameras that monitor red lights and speed. Then-Gov. Bob Taft vetoed a similar ban before leaving office in 2007.
Cincinnati voters shot down the use of red-light cameras before they could be installed. Heath and Chillicothe voters shuttered camera programs in 2009.
Sixteen Ohio communities, including most of the state’s largest cities, use traffic cameras to monitor red-light violations or speed, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The institute says red-light and speed cameras are used in 537 U.S. municipalities.
“Red-light cameras are an effective tool to not only reduce red-light running, but to also reduce crashes and injuries and deaths that result from those crashes,” institute spokesman Russ Rader said.