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Published: Wednesday, 5/9/2001

State's camera bill resembles guidelines adopted in Toledo

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

With only minor differences, a bill pending in the Ohio legislature that establishes guidelines for installing traffic light enforcement cameras at intersections adopts the procedure Toledo has used in its pioneering camera installations.

State Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) said the bill he introduced a week ago was not intentionally modeled on Toledo's practices, but was tailored to overcome problems with the means that a similar bill last year used to alert motorists to camera installations. “I guess we're going to find out” if the changes will get the stoplight camera bill passed this time around, Mr. Latta said yesterday. The bill is likely to be referred to the House Highways and Transportation committee today, his staff said.

Officials of several area townships said they'd consider installing red-light cameras at appropriate locations if the bill passes, though no one had any specific plans. Toledo, as a municipality, has begun installing cameras at 10 intersections under its home rule rather than wait for state authority. It is the first Ohio city to do so.

“Central Avenue would probably be a likely consideration,” said James Maxwell, Sylvania Township administrator. “Alexis [Road], Holland-Sylvania [Road], and Sylvania [Avenue] too.”

“Right now I don't know that we have any problems” with red-light running that are severe enough to warrant a camera, said William Miller, chairman of the Perrysburg Township trustees. “I'm sure we would consider it in an area that's troublesome and dangerous.”

Toledo turned on its first red-light camera at Hill Avenue and Byrne Road in late December and, after a one-month period during which only warnings were issued, began strict enforcement on Jan. 22. Eight others have either been installed since then or are being erected, and no warning period is being provided at those intersections.

Mr. Latta's bill, whose co-sponsors include State Rep. Jeannine Perry (D., Toledo), would require a 30-day warning period for all camera installations. Notice would have to be published for 14 days in a local daily newspaper before a camera begins operating.

Those notice provisions, he said, replace a requirement in an earlier version of the bill that every motorist be allowed one warning before he or she would receive a ticket based on camera surveillance. Camera advocates said the requirement would hurt cities' chances of finding contractors willing to install and operate the cameras.

The Toledo cameras are installed and operated by Redflex, a California company that sends the cameras' images to city police, who review the violations and direct Redflex to issue tickets for those they approve. Through April, Toledo police had approved 900 tickets. Redflex gets a cut of the fine revenue.

Mr. Latta said the intention of his bill is to cut down on deaths and injuries from red-light running, and noted that the camera installations are sufficiently expensive that they aren't likely to be installed just to generate revenue.



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