Metro Council gave the green light to a contract extension for the company that runs the traffic cameras in Baton Rouge.
Traffic cameras are a topic Baton Rouge drivers have been divided on for years.
Vicky Valle was filling up her tank near College and Perkins Thursday, not far from the traffic cameras at College and I-10. She tells us she’s familiar with the traffic cameras because she got a ticket from one.
“Another fact I find annoying is that I’ve had many people tell me I’m a fool for paying those tickets because they do not,” Valle said.
She wanted to know why have the tickets if there is no consequence if you do not pay.
We talked to Baton Rouge Chief Administrative Officer Darryl Gissel on this one. He said the company, American Traffic Solutions, sends out the ticket by mail. Currently, the city is not taking any further action to collect on unpaid tickets.
Gissel said city leaders are in discussion about how to change that, but those changes will require action from the Metro Council.
At the meeting Wednesday, Councilman Matt Watson said he supported the renewal of the contract with American Traffic Solutions, but he wants to change the ordinance to allow 100 percent of the proceeds to go towards officer pay raises.
As it currently stands, the approximately $2 million in annual revenue goes to public works for a number of things. That includes traffic programs, intersection improvements, police officers who deal with traffic and any other public safety needs.
Those in support of the cameras argue they work as a deterrent. Gissel said out of the people who have received a traffic camera ticket, there’s only a 16 percent chance they’ll ever get one again.
“We would like to believe that the red light cameras would help drivers not have that urge to maybe run the red light,” BRPD Sgt. Don Coppola said.
Some Baton Rouge drivers, like Bart Zimmerman, feel indifferent about it.
“I try to drive the same whether there is a traffic camera or not. If you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, whether there is a camera there to see it, it doesn’t really affect how I approach my driving,” Zimmerman said.
At the end of last year, a pair of Louisiana lawyers filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of the red light cameras.