The city of Springfield won’t be resuming its red light camera program any time soon, despite Dayton’s proposal to turn its red-light and speed-detection cameras back on later this month to improve safety at intersections.
Springfield leaders have said they won’t turn the city’s cameras back on until the issue is settled statewide in order to avoid driver confusion. The city has no intention of changing its policy, Springfield City Manager Jim Bodenmiller said.
“We’d have to go back to the city commission before that happens,” he said. “I certainly support that direction, but we’ve not chosen to do that here at this time.”
Springfield has 17 cameras at 10 intersections that were turned off in 2015 once a new state law went into effect requiring a police officer to be present at the time of the violation. Those regulations have led to multiple lawsuits, including one filed by the city of Springfield, that allege the new rules violate local home-rule authority.
The city had issued about 77,000 citations between 2006 and 2015, collecting about $3.4 million in fines. Under the new law, Springfield estimated it would have to hire at least 42 officers to run its 17 cameras at 10 intersections.
In Dayton, traffic fatalities have increased 45 percent and crashes have increased 40 percent since 2014, city leaders said. The Dayton Police Department has proposed having 10 fixed cameras, six hand-held devices and two portable trailer units where officers would be present to improve safety at high-crash intersections.
Springfield hasn’t removed its cameras, which Bodenmiller believes remains a deterrent to some drivers.
“The safer the streets are, the better,” he said.
In 2007, the intersections with red light cameras saw 90 accidents. That number decreased to 44 in 2014 — a 51 percent decrease. A year later, the cameras were turned off after rule changes.
Overall traffic crashes increased 8 percent between 2014 and 2016 and traffic crashes at monitored intersections increased 13 percent from 44 in 2014 to 50 in 2016, according to the Springfield Police Division.
“The facts speak for themselves,” Bodenmiller said. “I still believe in the concept.”
The city has already seen three crashes with four fatalities this year, Sgt. Brett Bauer said, two more than all of last year. It’s on pace to have more than the 10 that occurred in 2015, which Bauer said was the most he’s seen during his time on the force.
The Ohio Supreme Court likely will consider Springfield’s challenge to the new red light camera laws later this year. Springfield is one of several cities that sued.
Springfield’s arguments against the law were rejected by a Clark County judge in 2015 and the city later lost an appeal. The city then appealed to the state supreme court.
The city of Dayton’s case was heard by the state’s high justices earlier this year, which could affect if Springfield’s case is heard or not.
The red light cameras make the roads safer, Springfield resident Francine Goldberg said, but it hasn’t changed the way she drives.
“We stop at the yellow (lights),” she said.
However, both Francine and her husband, Steve Goldberg, said they’re not sure if the right person is getting fined, depending on who’s driving the car.
“It might be someone else driving,” Steve said. “Maybe we ought to do away with the (red light cameras) and make the fine something stiffer if the police catch someone going through a red light.”
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Red light camera crashes
Here’s a look at the number of crashes at the 10 intersections with red light cameras during Springfield’s program:
2007: 90 crashes
2008: 56 crashes
2009: 75 crashes
2010: 52 crashes
2011: 56 crashes
2012: 48 crashes
2013: 46 crashes
2014: 44 crashes
Source: City of Springfield
By the numbers
77,000: Red light camera citations issued by the city since the program started
51 percent: Reduction in crashes at intersections with cameras after the devices were installed
$3.4 million: Fines from red light cameras collected since Springfield installed them between 2006 and 2015.
Source: City of Springfield
Staying with the story
The Springfield News-Sun has provided extensive coverage of red light cameras since Springfield’s program began more than a decade ago, including stories digging into the money generated by them, effect on crashes and lawsuits filed challenging new restrictions on their use.