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Purported Ohio Speed Camera Ban Fizzles Out
Dayton becomes the first Ohio city to show the purported statewide ban on speed cameras does not actually ban anything.

Mobile speed camera
Lawmakers in the Ohio General Assembly loudly trumpeted their passage of legislation last month that would "ban" red light cameras and speed cameras. Without exception, local news outlets reported that camera use would "come to an end" without explaining that the provisions of the new legislation did not actually ban automated ticketing machines (view bill). On Monday, Dayton became the first city to formally announce that Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia would continue to mail tickets to vehicle owners within city limits.

"The photo enforcement program is not going away," officials explained in a press release. "In order to continue monitoring the city's established areas of concern, the Dayton Police Department will begin using three mobile speed vehicles at various times, at the high incident intersections, previously monitored by the cameras."

The law that takes effect March 19 requires that a police officer be in the vicinity of a camera before Redflex can issue the ticket. While this arrangement makes it uneconomical to continue running fixed-location red light cameras and speed cameras, the photo enforcement industry prefers mobile speed cameras, which will continue to operate.

Red light cameras lost much of their appeal to municipal leaders after a 2008 Ohio law required cities to add one second to the yellow signal times at photo enforced intersections. As TheNewspaper reported, the additional warning allowed motorists to come to a stop without the camera flashing. Violations -- and profit -- plunged by more than half in cities like Columbus and Springfield. Dayton, however, chose to ignore important provisions and continued to exploit short yellow times.

The photo ticketing industry prefers mobile speed camera vans to red light cameras because they have the potential to yield the highest volume of citations. Mobile vans can be moved to hidden locations to surprise motorists. Ohio state senators decided to preserve this form of ticketing after being heavily pressured to enact a total ban on photo ticketing, which has, for the most part, proved unpopular at the ballot box.

Residents in seven cities have circulated petitions and succeeded in overturning the decision of their city council to install red light cameras and speed cameras. The votes in Ashtabula, Cincinnati, Chillichothe, Heath, Garfield Heights, South Euclid, Steubenville have shown as much as 76 percent of residents opposed to the cameras.

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