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Ellisville considers dumping red light cameras

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ELLISVILLE, MO (KTVI)-- More cities nationwide are reportedly dumping red light cameras. Fox 2 has learned a St. Louis suburb may be about to join the list.

The Wall Street Journal reported a 6 % drop in cities using red light cameras since 2012.

Ellisville may be next, as soon as Wednesday night.

Mayor Adam Paul said they were no longer worth the trouble in city that certainly had its fill in recent years.

In a suburb of fewer than 10,000 people that’s repeatedly made headlines for its rowdy meetings, national headlines for impeaching then re-instating its mayor, for losing a battle over fining people for flashing headlights to warn of police radar, the mayor doesn’t have much stomach for more headlines on red light cameras.

“Is this something that we want to continue, giving the city a black eye?” Paul queried in an interview Tuesday.  “There’s about 5,000 tickets issued each year.  That’s 5,000 people who get a ticket in the mailbox 10 days later from driving through our city.  With all the publicity we’ve had, negative publicity, you’ve got to weigh the pros and cons of everything.”

The cameras have repeatedly caught violators at Ellisville’s busiest intersection, Clarkson and Manchester, since they went in.

But drivers still race through the intersection.

City leaders say there are conflicting statistics on whether the cameras have made driving safer here.

Driver Evan Grace said he liked the camera program, quirks and all.

“I almost had an accident the other day.  I had the right of way.  I had the green light.  Someone ran through the light.  I had to slam on my brakes.  That was not a pleasant experience,” he said.

Driver Lisa Hellmann said she understood the constitutional issues, even though she’d gotten red light camera tickets and paid the fines.

“Paying them is better than having warrants out for your arrest, but then again, it seems like it’s going against [the Constitution].  It’s ‘guilty until proven innocent’ with the red light cameras,” she said.

A state appeals court agreed, finding the Ellisville camera program unconstitutional.

The city council voted against further legal defense.

“It might be ok with the other cities, it might work out well with the other cities but for our cities and the three cameras we have, it’s killing us. Ultimately Ellisville’s trying to get back to a quiet town,” Paul said.

American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the Arizona company which operates the cameras and splits the revenue from fines in Ellisville, has cameras in other states that take pictures of offenders’ faces.

Fox 2 asked why those cameras weren’t used in Missouri since it seemed they might help end some of the legal wrangling.

ATS did issue a response. Spokesman Charles Territo  issued this statement:

“Red-light safety cameras are designed to change driver behavior and in Ellisville, that’s exactly what they have done.  Red light safety cameras were installed in January 2009, since then, accidents have dropped 44% from 112 in 2008 to 63 in 2013 at the intersection of Manchester & Clarkson.  After the cameras were turned off this past November, the number of events captured increased by 24%. Further, an astonishing 94% of people who get and pay a ticket never get another one.”

ATS will get a chance to makes it case at the city council's work session Wednesday night.

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6 comments

  • Dan Hyatt

    Please stop going to American Traffic Solutions (ATS) for false and misleading information.
    Photo Enforcement and ATS business activities has been proven to be for profiteering and increases accidents.
    Look no further then the two 2012 versions of the red light camera study in Kansas City. The first was independent, found no benefit from red light cameras and identified a fatal flaw in many red light camera studies.
    The second was co-authored by ATS, and is just a marketing paper, it deleted the data because it refutes ATS claims

    The cold hard fact is that despite sensational videos of 4 or 5 incidents. Red light cameras cite tens of thousands of motorists in Missouri for safe and legal behavior. This is like cited everyone on the freeway for going 60.1mph because 3 people crashed going 100 mph.
    As most citations are for right on red or under 1/2 second red. Yet the serious conflicts/accidents don’t begin for 2-4 seconds.

    After careful review, I have determined that most “violators’ citations would be thrown out by an unbiased judge carefully reviewing if a violation actually occurred simply focused on state and federal law and engineering standards. I found severe problems with the claims of red light camera companies on most citations.

    Any perceived red light violation problem is easily solved with engineering. But good engineering don’t make ATS and cities $millions and it makes cameras non-profitable. The cities can solve this “problem” by following national engineering methods by putting up signs “Yield right on red” and increasing yellow signal to exceed national engineering minimums.

    Go to motorists.org or wrong on red for more information

  • John Frein

    I was wondering, if the red light cameras are in fact illegal, then are the monies payed for those tickets considered in fact collected illegally? These cities and states should have found out if these cameras where legal before they installed them, not let ATS talk them into putting them up just to make money.

  • Stephen Donaldson

    Here is a reprint of a quote involving a ATS VP: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20110807/NEWS01/708079938

    “Waters ended up being the liaison between ATS and the Washington State Department of Transportation. The city needed the state’s approval for cameras along the Mukilteo Speedway, a state highway. The state wanted proof that cameras could prevent accidents.

    In an April 2010 email, Waters wrote that state and city reviews of actual accidents “did not reveal anything to provide that installing the (cameras) would improve safety.”

    He wondered whether Mukilteo could make the case for installing cameras along the speedway. That email went to Kroske, city leaders and state transportation officials.

    Kroske forwarded the email to colleagues. “I cannot believe this idiot sent this to WSDOT. (It) may have torpedoed the project,” he wrote.

    The camera company’s own data showed Mukilteo’s biggest red-light problem was with drivers not coming to a full stop before making a free right turn. ATS surveyed six Mukilteo intersections for red-light runners on a typical day.

    Here’s what they found: 16 drivers who blew straight through the light; 13 who turned left after the red and 150 who turned right on a red light at speeds of more than 10 mph.

    More than 3,300 possible violations involved what the company called “slow right” turns.”

  • James C. Walker

    Drivers who cause the t-bone crashes the camera companies show in videos AND which everyone wants to prevent are drivers who enter at least two and more often five to nine seconds after the light turned red. If red light cameras ticketed ONLY drivers entering the intersections two or more seconds after it turned red, no one would object.

    But then ATS and the other camera companies would go bankrupt because the truly dangerous drivers are far too few for the fines to even come close to paying the basic camera costs.

    Red light cameras cannot exist financially unless they ticket mostly safe drivers for split second through violations and safe slow rolling right on red turns that virtually never cause crashes.

    Ellisville and every other camera city should drop the money grab machines, likely reset their yellow intervals a bit longer, and keep the former fine monies circulating in their own communities instead of enriching the for-profit camera companies – in this case in Arizona.

    James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

  • Charles Lee Jr

    Lawless people are a symptom of the masses filled with unspoken oppression..

    Yeah…

    just as much as illness is the body and minds filling-up of the soul’s disdain for competing, as opposed to its awakening inheritance…

    Yes, it’s medically a form of psychological corruption to co-operate with a system’s teaching of contending for success and/or survival… In this context “corruption” is never a judgmental kind of “4 letter word.”

    Corruption of a heart due to traumatic experiences with cruel peoiple, is not a dirty or abhorrent thing to harbor within, or towards others….

    But it has been hiding our errors in understanding is emotional safety-imposed, and it’s marketed to keep your secrets secret with you only…

    No, psychological corruption is like our innocence catching a cold, or pass on the flu however, if not addressed and restore to seeing communally…

    it’ll just keep making its way through our family.

    Like it’s now in the rivalry of our siblings, and in sporting rivalry…

    It’s also in our competition for more success, and greater gains; it’s in our debates over giving people more knowledge, better understanding, and free wisdom from the ages of man’s thoughts, over conserving every good and replenishing resource.. ;

    and of course, the rivaling fear-based reality is ego’s shadow ready and willing for a violent war ot influence fear and violence in the hearts of every new born child among all of our new born children.
    ..
    Not a very acceptable reality for socially, and/or emotionally intelligent people, huh? Better examples of being humane because we live as one forgotten spirit of innocent humanity…

    To train-up children into their ancestor’s necessary ill will, makes their mission clear and present, if to bridge DNA gaps proves there are no more of our people vs.their people…

    at least not in the eyes of each child.

    What Change can we be from such kinship, which non-judgmental peace can we find inside ourselves, that isn’t born in children, known already?

    . ~ The Master’s SMILE Ministries :-D

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