Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Will cameras make Florida roads safer? I'm not sure

Maybe it's my imagination, but it sure seems like drivers in Florida run more red lights than in other states.

When teaching my 16-year-old son to drive, we witnessed plenty of that red-light running, which I took to calling Florida Roulette.

Now it seems lots of local governments are embracing a "solution.'' Technology to the rescue. Automatic cameras are going to catch these dangerous motorists and help part them with their cash.

Great idea.

Or is it?

The city of Port Richey and Hillsborough County recently said yes to the red-light cameras, while Temple Terrace, Clearwater and Brooksville are thinking about it. Brooksville Mayor David Pugh isn't so sure.

"If there is a public safety issue, we need to see the numbers to prove it," he said. "I'm not sold on it."

Neither am I.

What's the harm, you ask? American Traffic Solutions, a private company from Arizona, would install and maintain the cameras. Local law enforcement would decide whether to issue a ticket. The company would get a $40 cut from every $125 ticket issued, a sweet deal for any cash-strapped city.

From 1999 to 2004, Washington, D.C., raked in $35-million from tickets generated by red-light cameras — proof, I suppose, that Florida Roulette is more widespread.

Money matters, but do these cameras really improve public safety? There is plenty of doubt about that.

Camera advocates point to studies that show a big drop in red-light runners once the devices are installed. But critics have noted an escalation in rear-end collisions at intersections because motorists stopped suddenly rather than risk getting caught by the eye in the sky.

Easy money from red-light cameras might reduce the incentive to address other meaningful public safety issues, such as making yellow lights stay on longer and increasing police presence at the most dangerous intersections.

With the camera idea, offenders get caught and pay a fine. Bam, it's done. But if you get caught by a police officer, you suffer other consequences: points on your drivers license and potential higher insurance premiums.

That's real deterrence.

Andrew Skerritt can be reached at or (813) 909-4602 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 4602.

Will cameras make Florida roads safer? I'm not sure 03/20/08 [Last modified: Monday, March 24, 2008 11:22am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Hulk Hogan talks Tampa Bay, depression and politics on Fox News' 'Objectified'


    For better or worse, Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea is our guy.

    Hulk Hogan shows Harvey Levin his wrestling boots on Fox News' "Objectified."
  2. Pumpkin pileup: Fiery crash causes mess, closes portion of I-75 in Pasco


    Drivers on Interstate 75 in Pasco County should expect continued delays on Friday as road crews work to clean up a mess of debris — and pumpkins — left behind after a fiery semitrailer truck crash in the early morning hours.

    Road crews clean up a mess of crash debris - and pumpkins - left behind after a fiery semitrailer truck crash on Interstate 75 in Pasco County on Sept. 22, 2017. [Florida Highway Patrol]
  3. Cannon Fodder podcast: Key matchups in Bucs-Vikings game


    In our latest Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast, Greg Auman breaks down five key matchups that will help decide Sunday's Bucs game against the Minnesota Vikings.

    Defensive lineman Chris Baker is a question mark heading into Sunday's game against the Vikings.
  4. Rick and Tom podcast: Will Bucs go 2-0? Are Gators on upset alert?


    It's football friday as Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down the Bucs' game in Minnesota, including the improved offensive line.

    Ali Marpet moved from guard to center on an improved Bucs offensive line.
  5. In this Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, photo distributed on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers a statement in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's speech to the United Nations, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Kim, in an extraordinary and direct rebuke, called Trump "deranged" and said he will "pay dearly" for his threats, a possible indication of more powerful weapons tests on the horizon. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. [Associated Press]