OLDSMAR — It was a very close call.
Five years ago, Barbara Kries, now 51, was proceeding through an intersection at Bayview Boulevard and State Road 580 when a car ran a red light and smashed into her new Dodge Neon, spinning it like a top for five revolutions.
"It ripped off the front end of the car," said her husband, Rock Kries, 57. "A nanosecond later, it would have been the driver's door. She's still seeing a chiropractor and hates to drive."
Tuesday night, Rock Kries gave the Oldsmar City Council a heartfelt thank you for moving forward on an ordinance allowing the use of red light cameras. The ordinance was approved unanimously on the first reading.
If the council gives the go-ahead for the cameras at the second reading, scheduled for Dec. 7, City Manager Bruce Haddock said a contract with a potential vendor could be considered by the start of the year and cameras could be installed as early as March or April.
Fifteen intersections have been identified as possible locations for the red light cameras.
According to state law, which took effect July 1, cities can install the cameras and fine registered owners of the vehicles $158 for the infraction.
The money gets split among the state, trauma centers and the city, which receives $75. Oldsmar will share a portion of that with the vendor, Haddock said.
"There's no initial investment for the city," he said. "The vendor owns, installs and maintains the cameras."
As cities line up for the red light cameras — there are about a half dozen that have already installed them in Tampa Bay — the controversy surrounding them builds.
Some argue it may be more effective to extend yellow lights by a second or two — or hold traffic at all approaches to an intersection for a few seconds, giving it time to completely clear.
Some say, the cities just want to make money.
Mayor Jim Ronecker said that wasn't the council's intention.
"The council's interest is to make our streets safer," he said, "especially nowadays with all this texting going on."