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Red-light cameras still at least six months away in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — More details about the city's plans for red-light cameras emerged in a workshop Thursday.

The city anticipates installing cameras to catch red-light runners at 10 intersections in the next six to 12 months, staffers told council members.

Each intersection will have two cameras, and the city estimates they will catch about 15 drivers at each intersection daily.

The city still must decide which intersections will have cameras and how they will enforce the program. The city is also waiting for guidance from the state on how the program must be run.

Earlier this year, the legislature gave local governments the authority to install cameras and charge a $158 civil fine to drivers who are caught, clearing up ambiguity caused by legal challenges. If the violation occurs on a city or county road, the city receives $75 of the fine, and $45 if the red light is on a state road.

The citations won't cost drivers points on their licenses or factor into insurance rates.

The fines will help cash-strapped cities.

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster's proposed budget for the next fiscal year counts on earning $200,000 from camera citations.

Proponents of the cameras say they make drivers more conscious about safety. Opponents say they can cause more rear-end crashes when drivers slam on their brakes to stop at yellow lights.

Some council members expressed concern Thursday when they learned the upcoming budget included expected revenue from red-light camera citations, saying it made it seem as though money, not safety, had prompted the program.

"That wasn't what this is about," council member Jeff Danner said.

The inclusion of revenue in the budget makes it feel like "we've got to go out there and give tickets and make money now," he said.

Sara Gregory can be reached at (727) 893-8785 or sgregory@sptimes.com.

Red-light cameras still at least six months away in St. Petersburg 08/12/10 [Last modified: Thursday, August 12, 2010 5:46pm]
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