Pending a final vote, not only will those driving around have cameras to monitor running red lights, drivers will also have to be aware of speeding.
At , gave a comprehensive traffic management plan update in which he recommended council consider bringing speed cameras to the city.
Wolf said cities including St. Ann, Kinloch, Berkeley and Country Club Hills currently have speed cameras and he feels they would help to deter speeding in Hazelwood.
"It's been a number of years ago, probably 2004, since I gave presentation to city council on our comprehensive traffic management plan update," Wolf said adding that a lot has been added to the plan since that time. "The purpose of the comprehensive traffic management program is when our streets are safe and pleasant, quality of life is enhanced.
"When traffic problems become a daily occurrence, our sense of community and personal well-being are threatened."
According to some data Wolf presented, the handled 955 vehicles accidents in 2011.
Key highlights of Wolf's presentation include safety measures added to the city including:
- Keeps Kids Alive, 25 Zones: This is 25 miles per hour speed enforced zones where fines are doubled if a driver is caught speeding in an area with the signs.
- Traffic Management Team: Handles traffic accidents and does the enforcement. The team consists of four (4) officers who in 2011 issued 5,932 citations and investigated 141 injury accidents.
- Traffic Calming Program: Various measured where a citizen can go online and fill out a survey about concerns and traffic problems in their neighborhood. If 51 percent of residents in that area sign a petition saying the issue is a problem, the city will do a study to see how to address the issue. The program can result in a stop-sign or road bump being installed in dangerous areas, among other measures.
- Traffic Enforcement Cameras/Signs: The red light cameras displayed throughout the city, along with digital signs that tell drivers how fast they are driving.
- In 2011, the City of Hazelwood has issued more than 20,000 red light camera citations.
Wolf said he recommends adding speed cameras to the current traffic management plan by amending the current red light camera ordinance to also include speed cameras.
HPD would also enforce the speed cameras in a partnership with American Traffic Solutions (ATS), which currently works with the .
"It just makes common sense to amend our contract with them to include the speed enforcement," Wolf said. "I recommend we approve a contract with (all the camera choices) in it since we are still researching which camera is best for us."
Type of Speed Cameras
Speed Camera Options include:
- Car/SUV setup: A empty police vehicle would be left on the side of the road with the camera and radar affixed to it. Each time a car passes by that's speeding it catches the speed and take a photo. It can take up to three photos of three different vehicles at one time.
- Standalone tripod: A standalone camera/radar system would be placed along the side of the road and would act in a similar manner as the car/SUV setup. It would also capture the same amount of violations and one time. Wolf didn't recommend using this setup as he believes it's too easy to steal.
- Camera inside of a box: is the same as a camera on a tripod only inside of a box setup, which makes it more difficult to steal.
- Standalone camera/radar on a pole: This would work as the aforementioned setups only it's a permanent display that can't be moved to different locations.
Should the City of Hazelwood give final approval of speed cameras and they become law, Wolf said if council selects the police car camera setup, ATS provides the vehicle and the equipment.
Wolf also said a police officer would be stationed nearby reviewing the violations.
"Illinois State Police, they figure they can write 15 citations in a construction zone for every 1 (one) they write traditionally with the cameras," Wolf said. "With the traditional method, it is ineffective and inefficient.
"When an officer observes a person running a red light, they have to bust the intersections, run the red light and go catch that person to stop them and give them a ticket."
Tickets and Costs
In terms of enforcement, should a camera catch someone speeding, a $100 ticket would be issued. If the person exceeded the speed limit by 20 or more miles per hour, the fine doubles to $200. Depending on which ATS camera the city would contract, ATS would profit $35 to $40 per ticket.
"Many people will say it's about money," Wolf said of public perception should Hazelwood approve the measure. "But it is not a money-grab. It's a safety issue."
Council members had a few questions about the measure. Some expressed mixed feelings on adding another set of cameras throughout the city: privacy vs. public safety.
Ward 5 Councilman Russell Todd asked would tickets issued add points to drivers' licenses, to which Wolf said just like the red light cameras, they do not.
"It really is better if you get this sort of ticket versus a speeding ticket because you don't get the points," Todd said.
Ten (10) miles per hour (mph) over the speed limit would trigger a ticket.
said he was unsure if that was a significant enough gap for drivers to slow down when they see the cameras. Wolf said 10 mph is the current amount of speed over the limit at which Hazelwood Police issue speeding tickets.
"These are gentile reminders (for speeders)," Wolf said of the cameras. "Law enforcement should be out there dealing with the crime, not with drivers that fail to obey the traffic laws.
"Let the cameras do it."
The cameras would go up in school, park, work and construction zones, as well as Keep Kids Alive Zones and any other roadway determined to have a speeding problem, if approved.
Speed Camera Approval Process
Upon Wolf's presentation and recommendation to council, it approved the recommendation, which then had first reading as three amended red light camera bills. Council will have a final vote on the bills and approve them before they become law as revised red light camera ordinances. Follow this link to view the current red light camera ordinances.
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