Thursday, January 21, 2010

If You Hate Red-light Cameras, You Will Hate This Even More...

Posted By on Thu, Jan 21, 2010 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge St. Ann drivers will soon have to take a short break from speeding to avoid getting an automatic ticket.
  • St. Ann drivers will soon have to take a short break from speeding to avoid getting an automatic ticket.
Getting "flashed" while driving could soon become a lot less fun.

St. Louis drivers have had a hard-enough time learning the locations of all those pesky red-light cameras, now add to the mix the dreaded speed camera.

As Fox2 News first reported this week, the north county 'burb of St. Ann is now preparing the first cameras in Missouri to photo speeders and send them a ticket in the mail.

St. Ann Police Chief, Bob Schrader, says the move is all about the safety of children. But some think it's just about money. "We are the first department in Missouri to adopt this kind of technology for school zones, said Schrader."

The camera is going up in front of Hoech Middle School along Ashby Road in St. Ann. It's up now, but is still in the testing phase. Schrader says speeding through that school zone is a significant problem and he hopes the camera will help slow people down, "I think its a worthwhile endeavor for the safety of our children."
Yesterday Schrader told Daily RFT that since the camera vendor pays for and installs the devices for free, the traffic system won't cost the city a dime.

More after the jump.

The camera vendor, B&W Sensors LLC, is based in Crestwood and was incorporated in 2008. When a driver is caught speeding through the school zone, B&W reviews the footage and sends it to St. Ann police, says Schrader. If the police believe the infraction merits a ticket, they submit it back to B&W which mails a $100 citation to the owner of the vehicle. St. Ann receives $60 of the fine and B&W gets the rest.

"Right now we're sending out warnings," says Schrader. "Beginning Feb. 1, we'll start issuing tickets. I want this well known. We have signs. The more publicity the better. The goal is to get people to slow down."

Schrader says the St. Ann city attorney has reviewed the camera system and believes it passes legal muster because it essentially works the same way as red-light cameras. The speed cameras don't capture images of the driver. Rather they photo the car and the license plate and mail a ticket to the owner of the vehicle.

The speeding tickets are then treated as non-moving violations and do not add points to the license of the vehicle's owner. In July a federal judge upheld the legality of red-light cameras in Missouri that operate the same way.  

Daily RFT is waiting to hear back from B&W about other possible St. Louis cities that may be interested in this technology. If national trends are any indication, once one of these speeding cameras goes up, more are quick to follow.

Arizona was the first state to put up speeding cameras on highways, over a year ago. But according to a recent New York Times article, the cameras are so unpopular that the state might abandon them.

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