Attorneys for both sides of the ongoing red-light camera debate in the city of St. Louis argued before a judge this Tuesday about whether the city should continue using these cameras to catch drivers in the act of traffic violations. The judge will decide the fate of these cameras, with a decision likely to come in January. There appears to be an even split between people who praise the deterrent effect of these cameras and those who see red-light cameras as an unconstitutional means of increasing revenue. If you are like me and have fallen victim to one of these cameras, I’m sure you will be following this decision closely.
Hopefully some statistics in support of these cameras will be released. Purely economic statistics will do nothing to support the continued use of these cameras, as the system is set up so that violators will simply pay the fine without contesting the ticket (these tickets ordinarily do not come with any points). Yet forcing a driver to pay $100 for often arbitrary traffic offenses is in effect taking away money that the driver would otherwise spend at local businesses. And I would be very interested in a study that looks at the amount of rear-end accidents caused by drivers who “panic-stop” at a yellow light in an effort to avoid a possible red-light infraction.
As for the likelihood of the judge ruling against the use of red-light cameras in St. Louis City, previous rulings from other cities, as well as our own Missouri Court of Appeals, suggest that the cameras will stay in operation.
Stay tuned for more updates on the St. Louis red light camera decision.