Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Despite questions over red light cameras, St. Petersburg moves forward

ST. PETERSBURG — Despite growing questions about whether red light cameras make intersections safer, the City Council continued its support of introducing them by next summer as a way to fine motorists who don't stop at traffic signals.

The City Council voted 6-1 on Thursday to hire a vendor to install 20 cameras among the city's 298 intersections with traffic lights. Once cameras are installed, drivers who are recorded passing through a red light will get a $158 ticket. If the ticket isn't paid within 30 days, the fine will increase to $256.

"People will blow through lights," said council member Bill Dudley, a former driving instructor. "It's unbelievable. The only way you can impact them is to hit them in the pocket. This is about public safety. I've seen the results."

Yet it's unclear what effect the cameras have on red light running. Just last month, Los Angeles' city controller concluded that the cameras have failed to demonstrate an improvement in safety after 32 photo-enforced intersections were studied. Other studies, including one from the University of South Florida's Department of Public Health, show the cameras increase the number of rear-end collisions.

Council member Wengay Newton said he had doubts about the cameras and cast the lone vote against them. The cameras don't improve safety, he said, and are only a way to bring in more revenue. He suggested the city not fine those who are caught on camera.

But Mayor Bill Foster is unwavering in his support of the cameras and said the fines are necessary to deter future violations.

"I don't see red light running any differently than driving under the influence," he said. "Pretty soon you will kill someone. The idea that somehow we're not going to punish people who put others at risk, that's ludicrous."

Michael Van Sickler can be reached at or (727) 893-8037.

Despite questions over red light cameras, St. Petersburg moves forward 10/07/10 [Last modified: Monday, June 27, 2011 3:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Editorial: The human cost of slashing Medicaid


    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had no choice Tuesday but to postpone voting this week on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act that is just as devastating as the version passed by the House. The Congressional Budget Office's estimate that Senate bill would eliminate health care coverage for 22 million …

    Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press
  2. Editorial: Scott's poor choice for CFO


    Gov. Rick Scott didn't reach too deeply into Florida's talent pool in appointing his friend Jimmy Patronis to fill a vacancy as the state's new chief financial officer. This is an exceptionally weak choice for a Cabinet post that requires a sophisticated understanding of banking and other financial services, and it …

    Jimmy Patronis’ selection is about politics.
  3. Tampa Bay child welfare agencies get additional state funding, plan to hire more social workers


    TAMPA — Buoyed by the award of an additional $3.7 million in state funding, Eckerd Kids plans to hire more social workers to ease the strain on Hillsborough County's overburdened child welfare system.

    The child welfare system in Hillsborough County will get an additional $3 million in funding for the upcoming fiscal  year beginning July 1, according to Eckerd Kids, the agency contracted to run the system by the state.
  4. Bill Nelson knocks Rick Scott over Senate health bill


    Sen. Bill Nelson attacked Gov. Rick Scott, his likely 2018 rival, over today's trip to Washington.