Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater votes to move toward installing red light cameras

CLEARWATER — After vigorously debating the potential pros and cons, Clearwater leaders are ready to bring red light cameras to perhaps 10 of the city's busiest and most dangerous intersections.

The City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday night to have staffers draw up a city ordinance allowing the cameras. The council will vote on the new rule soon, and the cameras will likely be installed early next year.

Council members were split on the issue largely because academic studies on the effects of red light cameras have reached different conclusions.

The council also took the advice of the two Clearwater officials who will be in charge of running the program. Police Chief Tony Holloway and traffic operations manager Paul Bertels both favor bringing in the cameras.

"This is not a matter that is without controversy," said Vice Mayor John Doran, who has been pushing for the cameras.

He wants to make sure no one else does what he once did: run a red light and crash into a car. In 2008, he accidentally hit another car at Chestnut Street and Myrtle Avenue, causing minor injuries for the other driver.

Doran says he wasn't paying close enough attention that day, and he thinks the presence of red light cameras will make drivers more cautious when approaching intersections. "I'm not doing this for the money," he said.

A 2009 state law allows cities to install cameras at intersections and charges a $158 fine to the registered owner of the vehicle caught on camera running a red light.

For tickets from cameras on city and county roads, the state Department of Revenue gets $70, the state Department of Health administrative trust fund gets $10, the brain and spinal cord injury trust fund gets $3 and the locality gets $75. For tickets on state roads, the state gets $100, the locality $45 and the trust funds $10 and $3, respectively.

Clearwater officials offered no estimates of how much revenue the city would collect under such a system. Hillsborough County, which has cameras at six intersections, has received more than $1.8 million in revenue from them this year.

Doran, Mayor Frank Hibbard and Councilman Bill Jonson voted for the cameras. In Hibbard's view, the devices would free up more police officers to fight crime.

George Cretekos and Paul Gibson voted against the idea. They're concerned by a University of South Florida study that concluded that the cameras actually make intersections more dangerous because they increase the number of rear-end collisions. "I have trepidations about this," Gibson said.

Bertels, the traffic operations engineer, said the USF study isn't "accepted as gospel" in his trade, and that some experts dispute its findings. "With any group of statistics, you can bend them anyway you want to," he said.

Doran noted that other studies have found the cameras to be an effective way to reduce crashes — especially T-bone collisions, which tend to be deadlier than most other accidents.

"It's like a police officer that's there all the time," Bertels said. He said Clearwater will most likely target some of its most dangerous intersections, such as where Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard goes beneath U.S. 19 and crosses Belcher Road, Highland Avenue and McMullen-Booth Road.

Several local governments already have red light cameras. Kenneth City, South Pasadena, Temple Terrace, Hillsborough County, Port Richey and Brooksville have them, while St. Petersburg and possibly Oldsmar are getting them.

Jonson voted for the cameras because he has been amazed at what he calls "an epidemic" of red light running in this area.

"I'll think, 'Wow, he just ran a red light.' Then I see two more cars going after him," Jonson said. "I don't see how it's entrapment. You're going through a red light, for Pete's sake."

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4160.

. Fast facts

Red light camera intersections

These Clearwater locations are most likely to get the cameras.

• Belcher and Sunset Point roads

• Countryside Boulevard and U.S. 19

• Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and U.S. 19

• Gulf-to-Bay and Belcher Road

• Gulf-to-Bay and Hercules Avenue

• Gulf-to-Bay and Highland Avenue

• Gulf-to-Bay and Keene Road

• Gulf-to-Bay and McMullen-Booth Road

• State Road 580 and Charles Street

• State Road 580 and Countryside Boulevard

Clearwater votes to move toward installing red light cameras 11/17/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 17, 2010 8:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Forecast: Remnants of tropical wave continues to bring rain through the weekend

    Blogs

    After relatively dry weather through the first half of the workweek, the tropical wave remnants continue to bring an increased threat for showers and storms across the state and Tampa Bay.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast
  2. Harvey regains tropical storm strength in Gulf of Mexico

    Blogs

    MIAMI (AP) — Harvey regained tropical storm strength as it drifted in the Gulf of Mexico toward Texas early Thursday and forecasters said it could become a hurricane.

    Leo Sermiento, left, and Emilio Gutierrez, right, fill sandbags in preparation of a tropical system on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, on South Padre Island, Texas. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered the State Operations Center to elevate its readiness level and is making state resources available for preparation and possible rescue and recovery actions amid forecasts a tropical storm will make landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast.
  3. Largest Powerball jackpot won by single ticket in Massachusetts

    Blogs

    DES MOINES, Iowa - Powerball Product Group Chair Charlie McIntyre says the $758.7 million jackpot claimed by a ticket sold in Massachusetts is the largest grand prize won by a single lottery ticket in U.S. history.

    A Powerball lottery sign displays the lottery prizes at a convenience store Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, in Northbrook, Ill. Lottery officials said the grand prize for Wednesday night's drawing has reached $700 million, the second -largest on record for any U.S. lottery game.
  4. Florida education news: Computer coding, guidance counseling, career planning and more

    Blogs

    SESSION STARTERS: State Sen. Jeff Brandes refiles legislation to allow Florida high school students to swap computer coding for foreign language credits.

  5. Rays morning after: Offense showing some life

    Blogs