Red light cameras planned for Columbus

More than 100 cities nationwide have red light camera systems to catch people in the act of running a red. The Columbus Division of Police plans to position cameras at twenty intersections around the city as early as this summer. They say the goal is to cut down on accidents, but some say the plan smacks of big brother.

Columbus police see the intersection of Cleveland Avenue and Spring St. as a trouble spot. Drivers run red lights chronically, and they get into accidents. It’s on the short list of intersections where Columbus Police plan to position cameras to catch red light violators.

An exact dollar figure for those tickets hasn’t been decided yet, but it could be as much as $125. Proponents of these camera systems say they can reduce red-light related accidents by 50-percent or more. There will be signs at intersections where the cameras are in place letting motorists know that they are being watched. Lt. Jeffrey Blackwell oversees traffic enforcement for Columbus. He says just knowing they could be caught will make a lot of people stop.

The issue is getting some attention in the Statehouse. Hannah Boyd works for state representative Jim Raussen of Cincinnati. Cincinnati is considering a similar red light camera system and Raussen is considering proposing legislation to halt such programs in the state. Boyd says her boss has heard from many constituents who have concerns about the cameras.

In Columbus, the city council will need to approve an ordinance allowing a contract with the camera company and allowing tickets to be issued as a result of red light cameras. It hasn’t yet been placed on the council agenda.