Addis Town Councilman Russell Parish expressed concern that he would no longer be able to “help out” friends and their family members with traffic tickets if the town approved a new traffic light camera system during a Town Council meeting on Wednesday, June 7.
Parrish, acknowledging he was on the record, said:
“I’ve been on the council for 29 years. Say one of my friends’ daughters gets a ticket and I know it’s going to tear her record up. We might would help her… make her come pick up garbage or something,” Parrish said. “Now, how am I going to be able to help her?”
Parrish said he was worried the new traffic light system would put him in “a position” where he would not be allowed to “help these people.”
“We write about 300 tickets a month, but we try to help people also,” he said. “See, I’m asking the most important question.”
The traffic light company, Redflex, came to the town at the request of Addis Police Chief Ricky Anderson to study traffic on River Road and La. Hwy. 1 at Sugarmill and Bird Heights.
Addis Mayor David Toups answered Parrish’s concern by explaining that citations issued by Redflex will not enter into Mayor’s Court and instead undergo a review process by the police department, before being mailed to violators.
Tickets issued by Redflex are civil violations and not criminal. This means they are not reflected on insurance records, are not submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles and are rarely submitted to a collections agency, Toups said.
All criminal citations are tried or go into Mayor’s Court and defendants can be found guilty, not guilty or have charges reduced, Addis town attorney Dana Larpenteur said.
“Mayor’s Court does not have the power to say come empty my garbage can and your ticket can go away, but I’ve never heard of that happening in my 40 years,” Larpenteur said.
Additionally, the study done by Redflex found that 40 percent of the more than 7,500 drivers that pass through the Bird Heights intersection on La. Hwy. 1 are driving above the enforced speed of 55 mph.
“It isn’t about collecting money,” Toups said. “It’s about changing driving habits.”
About 1,000 of those speeding are going 21 to 30 mph above the speed limit, the report said.
“These are the highest numbers I’ve ever seen on a survey and I’ve seen quite a few from all over the country,” Redflex representative Andy Cichowski said.
Making money is just an added perk of the program, changing driving habits and reducing the number of crashes is the main goal, Mayor Toups said.
(Pictured above) Vehicles pass through the intersection of La. Hwy. 1 and Bird Heights, a proposed location for a new traffic light system.
Photo by Breanna Smith/The West Side Journal