Gates Mills Council Approves Money Grab


Well, Gates Mills City Council did it: approved on the 3rd reading the installation of automated enforcement cameras on Mayfield Road. I know, this is not a Dem or a Repub issue: it is naked politics at work to grab money just because they can. This will affect every driver on Mayfield Road even if you don't live in Gates Mills. The fly in the ointment is that the State of Ohio requires a police officer to be present while the violation is being recorded.


Fines start at $100 for 45-54 MPH, $200 for 55-64 MPH, and max out at $300 for any speed 65 and over. Why is this misdemeanor speeding ticket up to $300? In Gates Mills Municipal Court, an at-fault accident is a $100 fine. Any speed violation above 20 MPH over posted is $200. So now they want a robot to send you a $300 fine.


Pictured is just one section of Mayfield Road, speed limit is 35 MPH on a 4-lane divided highway with no driveways. Why is the speed limit 35 MPH on this divided highway? The interested student can study the US Federal Highway Administration publication on speed management here: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/local_rural/training/fhwasa010413spmgmt/. See especially section 2.2.2 Determining If Speeds are Excessive.


This is a link to the article in Chagrin Valley Times, but a subscription is required to read it: https://tinyurl.com/mrkr9kc6.


A ridiculous quote from the article: "Councilman David Atton expressed concerns about the volume of tickets that will be produced. He referenced a day in October 2018 when more than 5,000 cars exceeded 65 mph. “That’s a lot of tickets,” Mr. Atton said." So their big concern is that too many $300 tickets can create a PR nightmare for Gates Mills. Why would so many tickets be issued? Because the speed limit for this divided highway is too low.


Just ONE day in 2018 would yield five thousand $300 tickets, plus an untold number of $100 and $200 tickets. If they managed to collect just those gross violators, the city would have a windfall $1,500,000 in just one day. A point of reference: the ENTIRE annual budget for Gates Mills is just under $6 Million.


Then Councilman AuWerter stated this aspirational goal: "“Hopefully, people will start to adapt and will bring the speed down,” said Mr. AuWerter. “I’m certainly concerned that we don’t get tagged as being somebody just out for money and I think that [this program] could work very well, bring the speed down and achieve our goal.” They might not want to be perceived as "just out for the money" but they are certainly out for the millions of dollars for years to come if they implement this.


The article closes with this ridiculous quote: "Mr. Welsh said. “I think the program itself has good potential and I feel that it could save lives and everything like that. I’m not against that but it’s so arbitrary at this point that I think we should research it further.”" "COULD save lives and everything like that...arbitrary"?


Let's examine that ignorant claim: a 100% reduction in lives lost in 16 years on Mayfield Road is two: a 2-car accident at dawn in 2018 and a 3-car accident in daylight in 2010. So I can call BS on that. It will NOT "save lives". This ordinance and the politicians' speculations are wrong on so many levels.


Finally, to my politician and law enforcement friends: PLEASE don't make yourself a liar and claim this is about safety. In the 35 years since the first automated enforcement camera was installed in Texas, there are no independent, repeatable, statistically significant studies done that prove that cameras save lives, reduce accidents, reduce the cost of the accidents or even reduce our insurance premiums. As one familiar with statistical analysis, I'm certain that in 35 years of operation, billions of tickets issued all over the USA, there would be enough reliable data that would put this question to rest.

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