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Cameras up, revenue down

TAMPA — Over the past two years, Tampa officials have added more and more red-light cameras at major intersections, but ticket revenue from those cameras has fallen.

To police, this shows the cameras lead drivers to be safer.

"I can tell you that people are a lot more careful at these intersections," police Sgt. Carl Giguere told the City Council on Thursday. "I've seen it first-hand, especially with the signs posted out there. If they're coming up to a red-light intersection, they're going to be a little more careful and slow down, because they don't want to get a red-light ticket."

The city started the program in late 2011 with 24 red-light cameras, later increasing the number to 31.

In their first year of operation, those cameras shot video that led police to issue 62,697 citations. After expenses, the city's share of the revenue from the $158 fines was slightly less than $2 million.

In the program's second year, police increased the number of cameras first to 33 and eventually to 42. In all, they cover 18 different intersections.

But the number of citations issued dropped to 55,355 the second year. Net revenue to the city fell to $1.59 million.

Several council members expressed frustration that they wanted the money raised through the red-light cameras to be used specifically to add sidewalks and make the monitored intersections safer.

Instead, the revenue has been put in the city's general fund, where it helps pay for police and fire operations, parks and recreation, public works, economic development and central government operations.

The report made Thursday did not include any crash statistics, though police said in January that crashes at monitored intersections had dropped 29 percent the year after the technology went live.

Council member Lisa Montelione wanted more data on accidents, including rear-end crashes, at monitored intersections.

Researchers at the University of South Florida's College of Public Health reported in 2008 that studies from Virginia, North Carolina and Ontario showed red-light cameras drive up the numbers of collisions and injuries as motorists jam on the brakes at intersections.

Still, council members didn't dispute the idea that the cameras force drivers to change their behavior.

"It seems to me that the cameras must be working," council member Mike Suarez said. "If we're getting less citations, and we're actually more apt to catch people running red lights, then people may not be running more red lights."

Richard Danielson can be reached at (813) 226-3403, Danielson@tampabay.com or @Danielson_Times on Twitter.

Red-light cameras in Tampa

• Eastbound Fowler Avenue at Nebraska Avenue, and northbound Nebraska at Fowler.

• East- and westbound Busch Boulevard at Nebraska, and southbound Nebraska at Busch.

• East- and westbound Hillsborough at 40th Street, and northbound 40th at Hillsborough.

• Westbound Hillsborough at Nebraska, and northbound Nebraska at Hillsborough.

• East- and westbound Hillsborough at 22nd Street.

• Eastbound Waters Avenue at Florida Avenue, and north- and southbound Florida at Waters.

• East- and westbound Waters at Armenia Avenue, and southbound Armenia at Waters.

• Northbound Armenia at Hillsborough.

• Southbound Himes Avenue at Hillsborough.

• Northbound Lois Avenue at Hillsborough.

• Eastbound Adamo Drive at 50th Street, and north- and southbound 50th at Adamo.

• Eastbound Kennedy Boulevard at Ashley Drive.

• North- and southbound Dale Mabry Highway at Gandy Boulevard, and eastbound Gandy at Dale Mabry.

• North- and southbound Dale Mabry at Kennedy, and eastbound Kennedy at Dale Mabry.

• Southbound Manhattan Avenue at Gandy, and east- and westbound Gandy at Manhattan.

• East- and westbound Dale Mabry at Columbus Drive.

• East- and westbound Gandy at West Shore Boulevard, and northbound West Shore at Gandy.

• East- and westbound Busch at Florida, and southbound Florida at Busch.

Source: Tampa police

Cameras up, revenue down 09/26/13 [Last modified: Thursday, September 26, 2013 11:37pm]
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