“We do know for a fact that this does change driving behavior, and we are looking forward to seeing a very dramatic decrease in traffic violations, which lead to pedestrian injuries and other traffic crashes,” said Dayton police Lt. Col. Matt Carper.
EARLIER: Dayton plans to bring back speed, red light cameras
On Wednesday, Dayton city commissioners approved a contract with Optotraffic LLC to provide fixed red light and speed cameras and portable and hand-held devices. The city is paying about $133,400 for the equipment and projects to receive about $533,000 in annual revenue from its photo-enforced camera program.
The city’s traffic cameras went dark in July 2015 after state lawmakers imposed tough new restrictions on use of automated speed-detection and red light cameras. The city had used cameras to enforce traffic laws since 2003.
The city is challenging the state law, mainly on the grounds that it violates home rule, in a case that is being considered by the Ohio Supreme Court.
The city’s traffic camera program will comply with state law by having a police officer present while the devices are in use and recording motorists’ information to issue citations, Carper said.
The city analyzed three years of crash data to identify the top crash locations where the cameras will be placed, Carper said.
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Traffic fatalities jumped up by about 82 percent between 2014 and 2016, and injury crashes increased by 420 to 1,425 incidents, city data show.
“We’ve chosen the locations of fixed camera sites based on high-crash data,” said Dayton police Detective Jason Ward.
The cameras are expected to become operational within the next two months. During the first month they are operational, motorists will receive warning notices in the mail instead of actual fines, as required by law.
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Dayton police also will use handheld and mobile trailer cameras to cite speeding motorists. The police department will select where to deploy the equipment based on crash trends and citizen and police officer complaints, Ward said.
City officials say automated cameras are far more effective at reducing traffic crashes and promoting safe driving behaviors because they do not require an officer’s presence and are active 24 hours a day.
Officials say the city hopes to win its legal battle against the state so it can resume using a much more robust traffic-camera program.
But critics claim that traffic cameras are “money grabs” that are intended primarily to generate revenue.