`We kill more people with automobiles than we do with guns and knives,' says Toledo police Chief Mike Navarre, left, as he and Lt. Louis Borucki, head of the police traffic section, show signs that will be posted at all intersections that have cameras.
Motorists were put on notice yesterday: Run a red light at an intersection equipped with a surveillance camera and you will be fined $75, starting Jan. 22.
Mayor Carty Finkbeiner promised instant results from the controversial cameras, saying something needs to be done to reduce fatalities and other serious accidents. He said people have become so nonchalant about driving habits that running red lights has “almost become a game.”
Toledo is first in Ohio and 20th nationwide in traffic deaths related to stop-light violations, according to a study released in July by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a national lobbying group based in Arlington, Va.
Police Chief Mike Navarre noted yesterday that the city usually has more traffic fatalities than murders. In 1999, it had 30 traffic fatalities and 16 homicides; the numbers so far this year are 22 traffic fatalities and 12 homicides.
“The message is clear: We kill more people with automobiles than we do with guns and knives,” the police chief said.
After a 30-day grace period that began yesterday, police will rely on the cameras as their eyes for enforcing violations at some of the city's busiest intersections.
Motorists caught running red lights during the grace period will be mailed warnings.
Ten intersections are to be equipped with the devices by summer, as crews figure out how to incorporate them into the existing network of underground telephone and electric lines, according to Lt. Louis Borucki, head of the police traffic section.
In effect, the only intersection that will have a grace period will be Hill Avenue and Byrne Road, because that is the only one equipped with camerasat this time.
The cameras have passed tests conducted on them since Nov. 29, officials said.
Separate grace periods are not in the works for each intersection, Lieutenant Borucki said.
Cameras are being installed and monitored by an Australian-based company, Redflex, which has a domestic headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The next two intersections to get them will be Dorr Street and Secor Road, followed by Airport Highway and Reynolds Road, Lieutenant Borucki said.
The schedule has not been determined for the other seven intersections:
There are no immediate plans to add other intersections, Lieutenant Borucki said.
Redflex assumes all costs and responsibility for the cameras. Its revenue comes from a percentage it receives from fines.
A contract the city signed with the company June 9 calls for Redflex to receive 90 percent of the revenue from the first 12,000 fines issued every year.
The percentage decreases as the number of tickets increases, but the company is guaranteed at least 55 percent.