On November 4th, St Charles County residents will get to express their support for liberty by voting YES on Proposition Red Light Camera.
The measure is simple and direct. The citizens of the County which includes every resident of every city will decide whether the use of automated traffic enforcement devices like red light cameras, speed cameras, etc. will be allowed anywhere St Charles County. It’s not rocket science. It does not give the County the authority to make traffic control decisions for any municipality in any way, shape or form!
Automated traffic enforcement devices take away our personal liberty and constitutional guarantee to face our accuser. A camera cannot be cross-examined. The Proposition Red Light Camera amendment is necessary for the protection of the rights of all county citizens and the preservation of due process for them.
Studies indicate that 50% of all red light tickets are given during the first 0.5 seconds after a light has turned red (red light clearance). Slightly more than 94% of all red light tickets are given during the first 2 seconds of the red light clearance time. These are times during which an officer at that intersection would not be likely to issue a ticket but maximizes revenue for the municipality! The Federal Highway Administration recommends up to 6 seconds for red light clearance times depending on speed of the roadway being controlled.
The proposed Charter amendment DOES NOT take away any municipal power concerning traffic control devices aka, stop signs, red lights, etc. Now if you listen to the cities’ objections, you would think that We the People were being asked to approve the County taking away traffic control decision making power. It’s almost like they never read the Charter amendment which says:
“This prohibition(automated traffic enforcement systems)is the only limit imposed by this Charter upon the County or any municipality within it in performing their functions of regulating traffic and imposes no additional costs that need to be financed.” (emphasis added)
So why all the hubbub?
Automatic traffic enforcement devices are all about money. Whether red light cameras or speed cameras every city that employs them does so for the revenue.
St Peters is the only city in St Charles County currently employing red light cameras. The stated position of the St Charles County Municipal League is that it doesn’t take a position in support or opposition to the use of red light cameras. The “voice” of the cities says they are concerned about the precedent this Charter change would make. They also make other inaccurate assertions that it breaks state law – it doesn’t or violates the current Charter – it doesn’t do that either.
Most disturbingly the Municipal League distributes information that contradicts the truth of the Charter amendment. They claim the amendment could lead to the County taking over municipal traffic control functions.
They don’t say how this could happen since as demonstrated above the proposed amendment specifically DOES NOT do this. I believe that if you really nail them down, they are concerned that the County government could propose amendments in the future to do so. Fair enough consideration but it lacks a key element – We the People!
You see, before the County Charter, our county constitution if you will, can be changed, it must receive 50%+1 of the vote of the people. The cities in St Charles County claim that only 1 out of every 4 people live in unincorporated county. That should play in their favor since it would take their residents voting to approve any change to the Charter. Thus they have a built in safety net against any untoward attempted power grab by the county. That is unless they don’t trust their own residents.
Voting YES on Proposition Red Light Camera is really a pretty simple thing to do. Yes, red light violators should be ticketed but they should have their day in court and be able to face their accuser.
Hopefully you have enough information to vote YES on Proposition Red Light Camera Tuesday. But if not, perhaps this additional detail will help you reach that decision.
- Red light cameras improve intersection safety
- Red Light Camera Revenue NOT used for safety improvements
- Missouri Constitution provides authority to the County for the proposed amendment
Red light cameras improve intersection safety – Myth
Several studies show that red light cameras DO NOT improve intersection safety. Here’s just one of many:
“Comprehensive studies conclude cameras actually increase crashes and injuries, providing a safety argument not to install them…public policy should avoid conflicts of interest that enhance revenues for government and private interests at the risk of public safety.” Red Light Running Cameras, 5 Fla. Pub. Health Rev. 1(2008)
A study conducted by the Kansas City Police Department of their red light camera program showed intersection safety actually got worse!
i. Overall number of accidents INCREASED 12%
ii. Total increase in collisions was 29%
iii. only including the lanes that are monitored by cameras Rear end accidents increased 17%
Even MoDOT’s own studies show that the only way you can claim red light cameras improve intersection safety is by giving a 100% improvement to intersections that had no accidents before the cameras were installed and had no accidents afterward!
There are ways to make intersections safer according to the Federal Highway Administration. Taking actions such as:
i. Backplates with reflective borders
ii. Larger/multiple bulbs in traffic signals
iii. Adjust yellow light timing
Red Light Camera Revenue NOT used for safety improvements
The only municipality that uses red light cameras in St Charles County is St Peters. During the debate on whether to ask the voters of St Charles County whether they wanted to have red light cameras or not, St Peters acknowledged that the loss of red light camera revenues would be taken from Senior programs. They have discontinued the use of the red light cameras but have now said they will not cut Senior programs. Obviously a political tactic that backfired on them.
The Missouri Supreme Court in Automobile Club of Mo. V. City of St. Louis, 334 S.W.2d 355 (Mo 1960) found
“If a law, purportedly passed for public safety, is actually for the purpose of revenue generation, then the law is invalid.”
That finding was reinforced and referenced by the Missouri Court of Appeals in Brunner v. City of Arnold (Mo. App, E.D. 2013) when they said
“As did the couple in Aesop’s Fable, Arnold seems to have killed the ‘elusive goose that lays the golden egg’ for the primary and fundamental purpose of the Ordinance seems to be just that – profit. Profit for Arnold and profit for ATS.”
There has been little doubt since red light cameras were first put into operation in the state that the real basis was money.
Missouri Constitution provides authority to the county for the proposed amendment
The St Charles County Charter was adopted in April, 1992, pursuant to Missouri Constitution, Article VI, section 18(a). It only exempts school districts from the powers/services of a charter county.
Article VI, section 18(c)(2) provides that a charter county “…may provide for the vesting and exercise of legislative power pertaining to any and all services and functions of any municipality or political subdivision, except school districts, throughout the entire county within as well as outside incorporated municipalities;” (emphasis added). This provision allows a county charter to have any and all powers over municipalities if the voters adopt a charter that does so.
The cities claim the Charter amendment would be or may be in violation of state statutes. All state statues are subjugated to the state constitution. For example, any state statute that purportedly gives control to municipalities over their streets etc. are moot if county voters adopt a charter provision pre-empting such issues county wide.
The proposed red light camera Charter amendment DOES NOT take any authority away from the cities in managing, controlling or otherwise deciding about their traffic control systems, i.e., stop signs, red lights, etc. and gives the County no power over such traffic control systems. It is within the constitutional powers of St Charles County and, as an amendment to be adopted by the citizens DOES NOT violate any provisions of the charter or state law.
The Red Light Camera amendment is necessary for the protection of the rights of all county citizens and the preservation of due process for them.
Vote YES on Proposition Red Light Camera November 4th!