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Red Light Cameras Get Support

Supporters and Opponents of red-light cameras in Columbus voiced their concerns last night at a hearing on a proposal to expand the photo red light system.

Columbus City Officials made their case that cameras at intersections stop red light crashes and save lives. Deputy Public Safety Director, George Speaks explained the city's support in doubling the number of cameras from 20 to 40 because the number of t-bone or right angle accidents that have been reduced at dangerous intersections.

"The most recent data shows an overall average reduction from 68 crashes per year to only 16 crashes per year at our 18 camera protected intersections," said Speaks.

Speaks says that works out to a 76 percent drop in right angle crashes. Doctor Steven Steinberg, Trauma Medical Director at OSU Medical Center says he has seen his share of accident victims and backs the use of cameras to slow down drivers.

"Not only have a thousand citizens of Columbus died in the last decade of motor vehicle crashes but over 2500 citizens have been permanently disabled above and beyond those that die," said Steinberg.

But, Columbus worker, Rob Burger is concerned that other drivers will be forced to pay fines.

"If a driver makes a right turn on red slowing down but without an absolute complete stop that driver will also receive a 95 dollar ticket. This isn't how the red light program was initially promoted to the public but it certainly represents a potential cash cow for the city of Columbus," said Burger.

Columbus Police Commander, Richard Bash.

"Coming to a complete stop is what the letter of the law indicates and if someone slows down enough to exercise due regard in making that turn then that officer often times will not issue the citation," Bash said.

Since the red lights program began in 2006 Columbus has collected over $2 million, while it's Arizona based vendor has taken in nearly $4.5 million. City officials want to renegotiate their contract to keep more of the money from tickets. Chairman of the Public Safety Committee, Councilman Andrew Ginther says the cameras though are not about the money.

"This really has never been about generating revenue for us this has always been about public safety and we're thrilled with the results on average there's been a 68 percent reduction of right angle crashes," said Ginther.

The plan also includes mobile speed camera vehicles equipped with automated license plate readers to patrol school zones, parks and other places children gather.