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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Supporters, critics weigh in on red-light camera report

4

January

After the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported that accidents were down at intersections with red-light cameras, the Florida League of Cities and State Rep. Daphne Cambell, D-Miami, offered their opposing views.

The report emphasizes that traffic accidents are down at intersections with red lights. But it also states that crashes have decreased overall.

The study does not detail the extent to which accidents have decreased at intersections with or without the red-light cameras.

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Here is the statement from the League of Cities.

“Providing cities with the tools they need to keep residents safe is the Florida League of Cities’ No. 1 priority, and this technology has been proven to help authorities punish lawbreakers, reduce dangerous T-bone crashes and change the behavior of those drivers who selfishly choose to run red lights.

“Due to budget constraints and unfunded mandates, local governments commonly have limited law enforcement resources, and photo enforcement helps stretch those resources. Paired with traditional law enforcement techniques, red light safety camera technology makes Florida’s streets safer for drivers, bikers and pedestrians.

“While the data in this report suggests a significant positive effect on traffic safety, the Florida League of Cities believes the government closest to the people governs best, and nobody knows a city better than its residents. Some municipalities have determined that red light running is not a problem in their community and have chosen not to install traffic infraction detectors. Other cities, after holding public hearings and listening to concerned citizens, have determined that red light safety cameras will make their streets safer.

“The findings of the recent study reinforce what many cities already know and truly believe – red light safety cameras do save lives. However, Florida's 410 cities are all uniquely different – what works in Miami may not work in Sopchoppy and vice versa. As we approach the 2013 legislative session, the Florida League of Cities will continue to advocate for legislation that protects cities’ home rule power to decide what is best for the residents of its community.“

The study, based on a survey of the 73 local governments in Florida with active camera programs, found that the number of total crashes, angle-crashes and rear-end crashes all decreased from July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012. A total of 44 percent of community police departments saw a reduction in side-impact crashes, 41 percent experienced a reduction in rear-end crashes, and 56 percent reported a total reduction in crashes at red-light camera intersections. In a state that ranked the third most deadliest in the nation for traffic related fatalities in 2010, the decrease in crashes adds up to saved lives and costs.

Here is the statement from Campbell.

State Representative Daphne Campbell (D) Ranking Member of Local & Federal Affairs Committee, out of frustration over the number of complaints she has received from constituents concerning the red light cameras, filed House Bill 91 calling for the removal of the traffic infraction detectors.

Representative Campbell stated when our senior citizens receive a ticket in the mail, they have to decide whether to pay that ticket or pay for their medication(s) that they really need. If they do not pay for the ticket(s), their license may be suspended. Many of these senior citizens do not have anyone to take them to a doctor's appointment or to pick-up their medication(s). Having their license suspended would cause a bigger problem for them. However the cost of these tickets could be from $158 to over $200 and increase as long as the ticket is not paid.

The traffic infraction detectors were created after a tragic red light running accident in 2003. The red light camera companies exploit victims to push Florida laws to gain millions. People are presumed guilty by the picture of the camera. The corporations are the ones making the money. The municipalities were sold the idea that they would make money on the cameras and the cameras would support the police officers. But, you cannot cross examine in court a malfunction computer.

The police departments have learned the cameras add to their workload and decreased the so called revenue. Representative Campbell stated some areas of the police department we just cannot delete.

Representative Campbell agrees that some counties may have a financial shortfall, but feels we should not balance our budget on the backs of those who can least afford it on our senior citizens or those with low income. We, the elected officials, are aware of the financial shortfalls, but we must remember the people who elected us.

Representative Campbell stated those who can afford it are paying for the ticket then hiring an attorney to go to court to beat the ticket. These rulings could affect tens of thousands of dollars of traffic citations. Representative Campbell stated she is not working against attorneys but is merely pointing out that some attorneys advertise "You can beat a red light ticket in Florida". Why have it legal for some and not for others? 

[Last modified: Friday, January 4, 2013 5:55pm]

    

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