Red-Light Cameras ‘Gifts’ That Keep on Giving (Corrected)
Seeing this holiday season as the perfect time to give their small community of 13,000 residents a “gift” that keeps on giving, city officials in St. Ann, Mo., had red-light cameras installed at two intersections adjacent St. Louis’ Lambert International Airport.
This morning, I happened to notice the cameras — which were not there five days ago — while making one of my two weekly trips to the airport. They’re located at the first two intersections after one exits I-70 en route to the airport — one in front of the Airport Marriott Hotel, the other at the spot where you turn north into the airport complex.
Ironically, a discussion of the pros and cons of red-light cameras happened to be taking place at the same time on St. Louis’ Allman in the Morning talk radio program which airs on 97.1 FM.
Many pertinent questions were raised and answered during the popular morning program, including:
- “Are they Constitutional?”
- “What happens if you don’t pay the ticket you receive in the mail?”
- “What happened to personal responsibility?”
- “Do photo-enforced intersections reduce or increase the number of accidents at those intersections? and
- “Which issue — money or safety — is motivating local government officials to opt for red-light cameras in their communities?”
While all of the questions addressed by guest host Mark Christopher and callers to the program apply to the situation in St. Ann, the last one — the motivation question — stands out as most pertinent and prompts several other concerns. For instance:
- Do city officials in St. Ann realize the possible negative impact (i.e., “public perception”) back-to-back red-light cameras might have on out-of-town visitors driving to Lambert?
- Do city officials in St. Ann realize rental cars and shuttle buses comprise a large share of the traffic passing through the intersections in question?
- Do city officials realize that, according to some callers on the radio show who sought legal advice, they’re involved in a “numbers game” of sorts, since tickets received as a result of being photographed at a photo-enforced intersection are not enforceable and, therefore, need not be paid?
I suspect officials in St. Ann were thoroughly advised of the pros and cons of the cameras prior to making their decision and, in the end, were merely trying to "keep up with the Joneses" -- that is, the 24 other communities across Missouri that opted to take advantage of the services offered by Scottsdale, Ariz.-based American Traffic Solutions.
CORRECTION and EXPLANATION to PARAGRAPH ABOVE: After checking with city officials in the area of the St. Louis airport and contacting American Traffic Solutions as part of my research for this article, I felt certain I had the facts accurate about the municipality within which both of the red-light camera intersections fell -- but I was wrong.
While the ATS web site shows the City of St. Ann is one of ATS's 24 municipal customers in Missouri and Josh Weiss at ATS confirms the same, Weiss told me today that ATS does not own the cameras at the two intersections referred to in my post above. As it turns out, officials with the City of St. Ann are not doing business with two companies in the same industry! While ATS manages red-light cameras elsewhere in St. Ann, Phoenix, Ariz.-based Redflex Traffic Systems is the company whose equipment is installed near the airport in the microscopic community of Edmundson, Mo. (pop. +/- 800). [For more information, visit this less-than-informative City of Edmundson web site.]
At the request of Weiss, I removed the graphic showing the ATS client list of 24 Missouri communities. If, however, you want to see it, visit this page on their web site and click on the map where you see the shape of Missouri.
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Editor’s Note: Matthew Hay, a recently-elected city councilman from Arnold, Mo., was a guest on the program this morning and is leading a group, Don’t Tread on Me, which is fighting to have the red-light cameras removed from the community which, in 2005 became the first in Missouri to install them. To learn more about his efforts, read this Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader article.