Ellisville City Council votes to get rid of red light cameras

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ELLISVILLE, MO (KTVI)-- It was a first in the battle over red light cameras in Missouri, Wednesday night.

The Ellisville City Council voted 4-2 to get rid of them and kill its current red light contract with provider American Traffic Solutions (ATS).

An ATS representative, citing statistics from the Ellisville Police Chief, said the cameras led to a 44% drop in accidents at the intersection of Clarkson and Manchester, one of the most dangerous in the state.

Bu with ongoing court battles and constant legal wrangling, the city council decided the cameras had to go.

“The court of appeals has found that our ordinance is illegal,” Ellisville Mayor Adam Paul told an ATS team making a presentation on the camera program and the City Council’s work session.

A state appeals court ruled Ellisville’s program was unconstitutional last fall.

Matt Hay, a former Arnold City Council member who now leads the “anti” red light camera group, Wrong on Red, told Ellisville leaders Kansas City saw a 29% increase in accidents in traffic lanes monitored by cameras .  He also claimed the number of violations in Arnold plummeted from nearly 1000-a-month to just 95 – after the red and yellow light timing was adjusted.

“This is a scientifically proven way to reduce t-bone accidents.  If that’s implemented the same time the red light cameras are, it’s the addition of clearance interval rather than the cameras themselves that were responsible for reducing accidents,” Hay said.

Courts have cited the issue of points in striking down the cameras.

If a police officer catches you running a red light, there can be points issued and you can potentially lose your license.  But no matter how many times the cameras catch you, you keep driving; there are no points.

Also, most cameras show a car’s license plate but not driver’s face.   So, car owners can get tickets in the mail even if they weren’t driving.

But a representative for ATS said Ellisville had other options beyond killing the contract.

“We can do face shots.  Ellisville can do face shots right now.  They have remedies to get around all of the court actions if they want to.  They can do face shots.  We can do face shots,” said Jason Norton of ATS.  “St. Peters, as I’m sure you can review, they’re submitting under points.  They increased their maximum fine from $200-$500.  94% of the people who get and pay a ticket don’t get another one.  So the red light camera program is working.  If points worked, they’ve been around for decades; we wouldn’t need red light cameras.”

Still, the Wall Street Journal recently reported a 6% drop in cities using red light cameras across the U.S.

ATS attorneys said they’d look into whether Ellisville had followed proper procedure in ending the contract.

For now, the cameras are coming down.

There’s hope the state supreme court will agree to take up the Ellisville case later this month.

Ellisville considers dumping red light cameras

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