CINCINNATI — Eduardo Rodriguez wants voters to reconsider Cincinnati’s ban on handheld speed cameras as a method of traffic enforcement.
If the city had them, he told a crowd Thursday night at the Evanston Recreation Center, his daughter might still be alive.
"I'd rather get a ticket than lose my kid, I promise you this,” he said.
Fifteen-year-old Gabriella Rodriguez, called Gabby by her friends, was walking across Harrison Avenue to her school bus stop on Sept. 10, 2018. The first driver who struck her knocked her down. The second drove straight over her.
She died that day at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. On the first anniversary of her death, the driver who killed her remained at large.
Activists and city leaders have pointed to Rodriguez’s case as an example of a pervasive problem on Cincinnati streets: Drivers speed, take tight corners and don’t watch out for pedestrians, even near schools and crosswalks. Eduardo Rodriguez and other pedestrian safety advocates spent Thursday night arguing that speed cameras, although controversial, would create an incentive for drivers to watch themselves before a fatal crash.
“People, they’re not going to understand until people come knocking at your door,” Rodriguez said. “If it wouldn’t have happened to me, I would have probably said ‘No way. Why do we need cameras? Why do we need tickets? But the reality is, if you don’t speed, you shouldn’t have to worry about it.’”
Councilman Greg Landsman, who hosted the event, said speed cameras can do what redesigning city streets and clearly marking crosswalks — other pieces of a proposed long-term solution to fatal crashes — can’t: Enforce, not just suggest, limits.
“A lot of it has to do with how our streets are designed, how much infrastructure there is or isn’t at crosswalks, but a lot of it has to with enforcement and whether or not people feel like they can just speed around, especially in areas where there’s a lot of people and a lot of kids,” he said. “And at the moment we have too many areas where people just speed without any repercussions, and that’s causing serious issues.”
He argued that cameras would also help enforce traffic laws without taking police officers away from more immediate calls.
If voters agreed to amend the city charter and introduce cameras into Cincinnati’s traffic enforcement strategy, the company selected to provide them would pay for police overtime and the equipment itself. Taxpayers would not cover the bill.
Keeping a closer eye on local drivers will result in more tickets, Rodriguez acknowledged. He thinks it’s worthwhile.
“Money comes and goes,” he said. “But when you’re gone, you’re gone.”