Traffic cameras in Youngstown school zones are on hold

Published: Fri, August 9, 2013 @ 12:08 a.m.

By David Skolnick


Because of a possible change in state law over traffic cameras, the city is postponing plans to have the devices placed in school zones.

The Ohio House approved legislation in June to ban the use of the unmanned cameras to catch speeders and other traffic violators except in school zones. Cameras can be in school zones only if a police officer is present.

That defeats the purpose of the unmanned traffic cameras in school zones, said police Chief Rod Foley and Deputy Law Director Anthony Donofrio.

The state Senate will consider the legislation next month.

There is a “good possibility” the Senate will remove the language in the House bill about requiring an officer to be there when the cameras are in use, Donofrio said.

City officials and Redflex Traffic Systems, the Phoenix-based company that was going to install about 10 cameras by now that would be ready to use about the start of the fall term, have agreed to wait until the state Legislature resolves the issue before moving forward.

City council’s safety committee met Thursday and discussed the delay with Foley and Donofrio.

“Instead of doing anything, we’re going to wait,” said Foley, who added that Redflex officials told him the company won’t install traffic cameras until the state makes a decision on the devices.

“We’re going to wait as will Redflex,” Donofrio said. “Redflex doesn’t want to invest in infrastructure until we get word from the Senate.”

Council members started talking about traffic cameras in school zones in 2009, and selected Redflex in June as the company to install them.

The service is free, with Redflex keeping about 30 percent of the money collected.

A law approved by council in June carries stiff fines for violators.

Those driving up to 13 mph over the speed limit in a school zone face fines of $100, it escalates to $150 for those driving 20 mph over the limit.

Motorists caught on the cameras, which were to be turned on only when students are heading to and from school and when they are outside, would be charged with civil violations so it won’t affect their driver’s license or registration.

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