Dayton to reboot its traffic camera program: What’s really going on?

Speed and red light cameras are expected to return to Dayton later this summer after a roughly two-year break, and motorists who are not careful will end up lighter in the wallet when police begin reissuing fines.

But the city’s traffic camera program — long controversial — will be starkly different this time around because of state restrictions on use of the technology.

This is what Dayton motorists should know about the cameras.

What will be different when the cameras go live?

To start, the city will operate fewer traffic cameras than it did before lawmakers imposed tough new rules on the devices. The city will have 10 red light and speed cameras at five locations, or two at each site.

The city operated more than twice as many cameras at twice as many locations until July 2015, when it stopped recording traffic violations to cite motorists. The fines will be the same as before: $85. But the cameras only will be in operation when there is a sworn police officer present, which is a state requirement. The city’s cameras previously operated 24/7.

Where will the cameras be located?

There will be fixed red light cameras at West Third Street and James H. McGee Boulevard and at Linden Avenue and Smithville Road. Red light cameras were at West Third and James H. McGee for years before they went dark.

Fixed speed cameras will be placed at North Main Street near Siebenthaler Avenue; North Gettysburg Avenue near Fairbanks Avenue; and Keowee Street between East Third and Fourth streets. The city also had speed-detection cameras at the latter two sites.

The locations of the fixed cameras were selected by police after analyzing crash data and identifying high-crash areas. But Dayton police also will use handheld and mobile trailer speed-detection cameras at various sites based on citizen complaints and traffic trends.

RELATED: Traffic cameras are coming back to these locations

Why is the city restarting the traffic camera program?

Safety — according to city and police officials. They point to a 40 percent increase in traffic crashes citywide between 2014 and 2016, which they attribute primarily to the loss of the cameras. The cameras were turned off in mid-2015.

Critics have long claimed that Dayton and other Ohio cities primarily use traffic cameras to generate revenue. Critics have described automated cameras as “scam-ras” and a “blatant cash grab.” An unscientific poll of Dayton Daily News readers in January found that 77 percent of respondents feel cities should not be allowed to use automated traffic cameras.

The city projects it will receive about $400,000 in net revenue annually from the traffic camera program, after the camera contracting company is paid its fees.

RELATED: Dayton to resume using traffic cameras again

What else is good to know?

The cameras are expected to go online within the next two months. But for the first month of operation, traffic violations caught on camera will result in a warning, not a fine. That’s required by state law.

Fines are mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle caught speeding or running red lights. People who want to contest the fines have 30 days to formally request an administrative hearing. The city has challenged the validity of the state law that restricts use of traffic cameras. The case is before the Ohio Supreme Court.

RELATED: Future of traffic cameras uncertain as Supreme Court considers arguments

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