Brooksville may raise speed limit for right turns at red-light camera sites

Brooksville plans to increase the speed limit for the turns at intersections with cameras.
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BROOKSVILLE — Making right turns on red lights in the city of Brooksville should soon be less stressful, at least for those who fear receiving red-light camera tickets.

On Monday, the City Council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that would increase the allowable speed for someone making a right turn on red, at a red-light-camera intersection, from 5 mph to 10 mph — no stop required. That means that if someone is going under 11 mph, the person would not get a red-light camera ticket.

Several years ago, the Florida Legislature created a special provision that allowed motorists, at red-light camera intersections, to make right turns on red "in a careful and prudent manner.'' The council's choice is to now define that as 10 mph, assuming the ordinance is approved on second reading.

Officials acknowledge that the provision conflicts with state motor vehicle laws and is confusing. State law has always required that drivers come to a complete stop before turning right on red. With the change in the ordinance, if a motorist makes a right turn on red without stopping and the turn is witnessed by a city police officer, it will be up to the officer to decide whether to issue a citation, according to city officials.

Tickets for right turns on red have provided a major chunk of the revenue the city has received since the cameras returned to several intersections in 2012. The city expects to receive about $400,000 of the $2.3 million in revenue the cameras will generate during the current fiscal year, according to city officials.

City staffers have not done a detailed analysis on what the change in the speed limit will mean to the revenue, but they have noted that the decrease could be near 20 percent of total revenue.

The ordinance is seen as a way to provide temporary relief to the controversial camera tickets. Last month, the council voted to end the camera program when its current contract runs out — likely in December. Brooksville residents and businesses alike have complained that the cameras have driven business away, given the community a bad reputation and actually caused more accidents than they might have prevented.

Opponents have gathered petitions, sought relief on the ballot and gone to court to try to get the program stopped. Several of those people thanked council members this week for deciding last month to remove the red-light cameras.

"Thanks for not renewing the red-light cameras,'' said Brooksville resident Pat Miketinac. "The will of the majority should be followed.''

The final reading of the ordinance is slated for March 16, and the ordinance would take effect immediately after if it is approved.

Contact Barbara Behrendt at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

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