advertisement

Columbia's red-light camera trial to start this week

Thursday, July 9, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 9:32 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 9, 2009

COLUMBIA — The city hopes to have red-light cameras installed at two intersections by the end of the week, though negotiations with the Missouri Department of Transportation have slowed the process.

The intersections of Stadium Boulevard and Worley Street and Broadway and Providence Road are both maintained by MoDOT. The city needs permission from MoDOT to make any changes to the intersections.

City spokeswoman Toni Messina said city officials were keeping in contact with Gatso USA, the company providing and operating the camera systems. Messina said she was hopeful that an agreement could be reached so Gatso USA could have the cameras installed on time.

“We’re certainly hoping to get them (the cameras) up by the end of the week,” Messina said.

The two red-light cameras will be the first of 16 to be installed at Columbia intersections. Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine said he hopes to have all 16 cameras installed by this time next year.

St. Romaine said the city might require “additional resources” to enforce tickets for red-light violations. A law enforcement officer must certify each ticket, and it’s possible that the city will have to hire more officers for that purpose. The city plans to gradually implement the cameras and over time determine if more employees are needed to enforce violations, he said.

“We obviously want to make sure we have the right processes in place to make sure things go smoothly,” St. Romaine said. “We want to start out slow.”

St. Romaine said the city also wants to avoid the legal problems experienced by some cities that use red-light cameras. He cited Arnold as an example of a city that has had problems with car owners receiving tickets for violations that occurred when they weren’t driving the vehicle. St. Romaine said that the cameras will take photos of the driver when a red-light violation occurs, which should alleviate the problem.

“A lot of cities have had similar issues, and we didn’t want to have the same problems,” he said.

According to St. Romaine, tickets will still be sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. Because the cameras will take photos of the driver, vehicle owners can transfer liability to the person driving at the time of the accident.

All of the red-light cameras will be owned and operated by Gatso USA. Red-light violators will be fined $120, and Gatso USA will receive $41 of that fee. St. Romaine said that even though many people might think the city is implementing the cameras to make money, the cameras are needed to ensure safer driving.

“We want to change people’s driving behavior,” St. Romaine said.


Like what you see here? Become a member.


Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Comments

Matt Y July 9, 2009 | 12:10 a.m.

"St. Romaine said that even though many people might think the city is implementing the cameras to make money, the cameras are needed to ensure safer driving."

Well, at least he didn't outright deny it. I guess that's honest, sort of. I can't wait to see how many rear-end collisions occur as a direct result of these cameras. Stupid idea.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 9, 2009 | 5:00 a.m.

People will still ignore stop lights just like they always have.

This will change nothing until our judges start to send a message by imposing the maximum fines/sentences according to law that they can with no prejudice included.

Also will the two local papers amend their police reports to reflect just who and how many per month are being busted by these new cameras? Maybe then the City can try to convince it's citizens these tools are worth while.

(Report Comment)
Iain Fielden July 9, 2009 | 11:38 a.m.

It is perhaps unfortunate that The City has chosen a funding model where Gatso USA get a % of each ticket as opposed to a yearly fee.

The Dutch parent company Gatsometer has a record of questionable behaviour in situations where there could be conflict between "doing the right thing" and what is best for their bottom line.

In a recent case in England a Gatso speed camera was questioned because it was set on a curve tighter than Gatso's stated limit of 1,200 metres radius (1,300 yards).

The Technical Director (VP, Technology) of the Gatsometer company was called to testify. He did not tell the court that his $20,000 fee would likely never be paid if the police did not win the case. He testified that the 1,200 limit was "arbitrary" and had been imposed on Gatso "by the Dutch Standards Bureau" and that the device would still give an accurate result on a a tighter curve. He was later recorded laughing and saying that the limit was not "arbitrary" but was "scientifically calculated", that it was not imposed by Dutch Standards Institute, but was "proposed by Gatso" and approved by Dutch Standards Institute and that the limit of 1,200 metres was chosen because the legally required level of accuracy could not be guaranteed on a tighter curve.

If the Dutch parent company behaves in this way, how much trust can be placed in the USA subsidiary? Are they a suitable partner for The City's Police or do the Police run a risk of tarnishing their reputation by association with this company?

The City's Police probably have no independent proof of the accuracy of the Gatso equipment beyond the assurances of Gatso. If local law firms get to hear of this English Case, suggesting that Gatso's assurances might not be worth much, what will happen then?

Iain Fielden

(Report Comment)
Will Barret July 9, 2009 | 11:46 a.m.

"People will still ignore stop lights just like they always have.

This will change nothing until our judges start to send a message by imposing the maximum fines/sentences according to law that they can with no prejudice included."

blahah - wait a minute so people will stop running red light if they get a ticket...but not if it's from a camera...hahah

(Report Comment)
Will Barret July 9, 2009 | 11:48 a.m.

"Well, at least he didn't outright deny it. I guess that's honest, sort of. I can't wait to see how many rear-end collisions occur as a direct result of these cameras. Stupid idea."

yes, how dare the city get revenue from people putting everyone else in danger...i'd much rather they get income from law bidding citizens.

(Report Comment)
Bill Lewin July 9, 2009 | 2:22 p.m.

I read Ian Fielden's remarks with surprise. He has claimed that a Gatso speed camera was installed in a way that made it inaccurate but despite being a highly qualified scientist with a special interest in measurement techniques he has consistently failed to show how inaccurate the camera could have been. When the installation is examined it is easy to see the camera produces accurate readings as required.
He has produced information on an Internet forum to show that at the time of the speeding the driver was going faster than the speed limit and because of a medical condition the driver also tripped a speed camera later that week. The information about the medical condition and the fact he had concluded the speed was higher than the limit was deliberately not given to the court by Fielden. The cort case has been lost in 3 courts in the UK with no courts left to go to. Last week on the same website he revealed that he posed as someone from the prosecution to trick an expert he speaks of into discussing the case.
Fielden seems to be on a crusade to absolve the defendant, I wonder why? His wife is the defendant and he believeshe can use his reputation to confuse the courts, unfortunately for her the courts have been anything but convinced.

(Report Comment)
Dion Wisniewski July 9, 2009 | 5:56 p.m.

I think the large number of people that get ticketed by these cameras are those that see a yellow light and speed up so they do not have to wait at the intersection. There shouldn't be that many accidents as long as people are attentive drivers and actually pay attention to what is happening in front of them.

(Report Comment)
major ohoolahan July 9, 2009 | 5:59 p.m.

Quote Fielden "In a recent case in England a Gatso speed camera was questioned because it was set on a curve tighter than Gatso's stated limit of 1,200 metres radius (1,300 yards)."

It appears the questions were answered quite clearly.

See: http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/local-wes...

"£15k speed fine couple fighting on
A COUPLE hit with a £15,000 court bill after waging a failed battle against a £60 speeding ticket are continuing their fight.

Expert physicist Iain Fielden and wife Vikki were ordered to pay the huge costs by a judge at Bradford Crown Court last June after failing in their appeal against a speeding fine dating back to June 2006.

It was believed to be the costliest speed camera case ever brought in the UK.

But, nearly three years after they were trapped by the camera at New Mill Road in Brockholes, the Sheffield couple are refusing to let the matter lie.

They are risking even further expense by lodging an appeal with the High Court.

Dr Fielden said: “It is a worry, but this is a matter of principle.”

Mrs Fielden, 49, was clocked driving at 36mph in a 30mph zone on June 4 2006 when the couple were returning home after visiting friends in Honley.

She was issued with a £60 fixed penalty notice and given three penalty points.

But Dr Fielden, who works for Sheffield Hallam University and has won awards for his work studying light, said the reading was wrong because the camera was positioned on a bend in the road.

He said, because of the way light travels, the camera could not have made an accurate measurement.

The couple’s first appeal was rejected by Huddersfield magistrates, who increased the fine to £100 and ordered them to pay £200 costs.

They then took the matter to Bradford Crown Court, where Dr Fielden represented his wife.

He claimed that, according to his best estimate, the car was only travelling at about 31mph.

But the judge, Recorder Jonathan Hill, found in favour of the speed camera company and told the Fieldens they would have to pay £15,000 towards the costs of the case.

Dr Fielden would not go into detail about the basis of the High Court appeal.

But he said: “It is based on new evidence that has come to light.”

He added: “Appealing to the High Court puts the whole matter of payment of the costs on hold.

“Things have been OK since the hearing, apart from all the extra work involved in lodging the appeal.”

The couple expect it to be months before they are given a date for the hearing."

(Report Comment)
Iain Fielden July 9, 2009 | 7:02 p.m.

"Dion Wisniewski July 9, 2009 | 5:56 p.m.

I think the large number of people that get ticketed by these cameras are those that see a yellow light and speed up so they do not have to wait at the intersection."

Who does and does not get tickets is often determined by the timings of the yellow lights. There is not a fixed standard timing, so they can be adjusted (and mis-adjusted) so that even careful drivers will violate the red lights. If the yellow timing is right then only the foolish drivers will get ticketed - but then the scheme may not raise much money. This potential conflict of interest between giving real road safety through good engineering, the correct timing of the lights, and "being tough" by issuing lots of (profitable) tickets, is the reason why the partners in such a scheme should only be those of the top-most integrity. These cameras have the potential to do much good, and in the wrong hands, to do much harm.

Gatso (Netherlands) is a company who's VP Technology says one thing in court and the exact opposite when he does not know he is being recorded. Is Gatso USA a suitable company to be given this level of trust?

Iain Fielden

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.

advertisements