A new Missouri Supreme Court ruling offers Kansas City officials a good road map for establishing a legal and effective red-light camera ordinance.
The law should be set up to punish motorists who run stoplights, free up police officers for more important duties and, yes, even allow the city to collect some revenue to cover the system’s cost and more.
The cameras will help make people more careful when they approach dangerous intersections and especially prevent right-angle accidents that cause catastrophic injuries.
Not everyone will be overjoyed if Mayor Sly James and the City Council act in the next few months on this issue and reactivate cameras already in place at dangerous intersections around the community.
The naysayers don’t like the Big Brother theme of the cameras, or paying $100 fines. And they question the statistics that say the cameras make driving safer. They have enjoyed the fact that the city’s program has been dormant almost two years, after court decisions questioned how it was being used.
The city did not know for sure who was driving a vehicle that ran a red light; the citation was issued to the vehicle’s owner. The city also did not count red-light running as a violation that deducted points from a driver’s license.
The state Supreme Court helped clarify the situation.
In the future, blowing through a red light needs to be counted as a moving violation when caught on a camera. That means the city needs to know who was behind the wheel. No problem: The technology is available to capture a photo of the driver.
City Manager Troy Schulte, a consistent supporter of this program, quickly indicated he soon could recommend turning the cameras back on.
“While there are significant new policy discussions that the council will have to consider,” Schulte said, “I still feel, and the data clearly shows, that the cameras had a significant positive impact on traffic safety.”
Fewer Kansas Citians ran stoplights after the cameras were first installed in 2009, according to statistics compiled by the city, and fewer accidents occurred at the wired intersections.
Effectively, the cameras helped make the streets safer for many motorists. That can happen again — if the city approves a reasonable ordinance that makes it easy to know who was at fault for violating the law and appropriately punishes them for doing so.