Public officials keep telling us that traffic cameras are all about making our streets safer, not about generating revenue. To take a look at this, lets see the story in today's Columbus Dispatch that talks about the camera system in Heath, OH.
Officials in Heath installed2 cameras to watch for excessive speed on Route 79, an area that has seen one crash in the last two years that was caused by excessive speed. Those two cameras alone accounted for 5,000 traffic citations in just 4 weeks.
Ten more cameras were installed to watch intersections in town and look for red light runners, accounting for 5,000 more tickets in the last month. At those intersections, light runners were responsible for 16 traffic accidents over a two year period.
In all, the traffic tickets will cost the drivers in the area more than $1,000,000 in fines, of which the city will keep $830,000. In one month. Extrapolate that out to a two year period, and taxpayers will pay over $24 million in traffic fines, which even if the fines eliminate all speed and light runner accidents, will only eliminate 17 traffic accidents over that same two year period.
The fact that the city budget will reap $20 million dollars over that same 20 year period, in a city with an annual operating budget of less than $7 million per year, and you can quickly see that this is about money, not safety.