Citizens For A Better Norwood

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Red light cameras - is it time?

By Rick Hursh

Is it time for red light cameras in Norwood? Cincinnati is struggling with the issue with City Council supporting the move for the protection of the community and with COAST and the NAACP opposing the issue on the side that cameras are intrusive, cause more accidents, increase insurance rates and would scare people from downtown.

Red light cameras are automatic systems that take pictures of cars that run red lights. A citation and usually a picture is sent to the owner of the car. These camera systems are more often than not monitored and maintained by a private company receiving a portion of the money generated by the tickets at no cost to the community.

Of the many down sides to the system, a person is considered guilty and must prove his/her innocence. The cameras may tend to increase the number of accidents because people slam on there breaks when they see that they may be caught by the camera. In addition, there is a big brother feel to the cameras as you can see on YouTube. A camera in Hartford, Connecticut caught a hit and run incident where an elderly man was left in the street and was passed by a number of people with no one coming to his aid.

Why red light cameras? Norwood is a city of pedestrians. In our town, people walk to school, the store, church, the bar, with their dogs, and to our parks and pools. Cars that run red lights are a clear danger not only to other cars but also to those pedestrians. With the ever higher gas prices, we are bound to see more and more walkers.

Having personally witnessed a number of drivers just blow through red lights while other cars patiently waited, I can see that it will not be long before we will have to deal with the tragedy of the situation. That our police can only do so much and cannot be everywhere at the same time may need to be a factor in our decision.

So, is it time for red light cameras or are there other solutions? Do we need to increase police presence at major intersections, drawing them away from their current patrols? Hire more police, which will increase our taxes or draw money from other services like the fire department? While having heard the arguments against red lights cameras, I have not heard COAST or the NAACP come up with solutions to the problem. We can always do nothing and just pray that our family, friends and neighbors do not become the victims. Prayer is good; just make sure you include the atheists and the agnostics. They have kids, too.