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Traffic Cameras Bring Tiny Ohio Village To A Stop

Just last year, she recalled, a pedestrian was hit and killed a couple blocks from her restaurant, near an elementary school. So she understood that something had to be done. But now she is among many small business owners worried that the cameras have given the village a speed-trap stigma.

Few things will rile citizens quicker than getting tickets in the mail, along with photos of their vehicles under a red light. The letters usually inform them they will not be assessed traffic violation "points"; nor will their insurance company be contacted. But they must pay up, or face a collection agency and damage to their credit ratings.

Supporters of camera enforcement say they stretch law enforcement resources, and they usually result in safer driving and thus save lives. Opponents see cameras giving governments a way to grab more money from taxpayer pockets, putting local policing in the hands of remote, for-profit companies, and taking society another step toward an Orwellian state of constant surveillance for misbehavior.

In Arizona, where two large photo enforcement companies are based, red-light and speed enforcement cameras have been a matter of contention for years. Gov. Jan Brewer scuttled a state program that put speed-enforcement cameras on freeways and interstates in 2010 when a contract expired; efforts to ban the devices used by many cities and towns are a yearly fixture in the Legislature.

In February, San Diego followed Los Angeles and Pasadena in dropping traffic camera citations; the mayor said they bred disrespect for the law because residents believed they were meant to make money, not reduce accidents. Legislation to require communities to get state permits before installing traffic cameras stalled this year in Iowa, while a group called Stop Big Brother has been trying to head off cameras in Iowa City.

There are 12 states that ban speed cameras, and nine prohibit red-light cameras.

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