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Speed cameras: Controversial, unquestionably profitable

Red-light traffic cameras just rub some people the wrong way in Ohio and elsewhere across the country.

Understandably, among that peeved group are not city council members and municipal administrators who readily welcome the infusion of cash resulting from speeding tickets. For many others, though, the concept is an affront to personal liberty interests and questionable for its claims that the cameras have a salutary effect on reducing car accidents.

We provided readers with some relevant information on the subject in a prior post. In our November 8, 2012, entry, we summarized the status regarding the cameras (in a nutshell, no state law on the subject, and operating freely in many locales, including Cleveland) and also noted the discontent of many state residents with the implementation of the devices.

Do they work?

A “yes” or “no” answer truly depends on who is being asked the question. Some safety groups say that the cameras go far toward reducing problematic driving behaviors and motor vehicle crashes. Just as many studies and surveys indicate that their effect is negligible and that the real reason for installation is to fleece motorists and generate revenue for local municipal bodies.

That latter assertion seems hard to argue. A Freedom of Information request by the group AAA revealed that a single camera set up in Washington, D.C., brought in more than $11 million in two years.

Legislative scrutiny of the cameras is increasing across the country, with the New York Times noting that scores of new bills have been drafted this year alone that seek to ban the cameras.

In the meantime, many Ohio drivers continue to chafe when they get their tickets in the mail.

Source: New York Times, “Traffic cameras draw more scrutiny by states,” Emmarie Huetteman, April 1, 2013