Brooksville to get red-light cameras

BROOKSVILLE — Beware of those busy intersections, Brooksville drivers. Cameras will soon be out there looking for red-light runners.

The City Council unanimously approved a measure Monday that will allow cameras to be installed at some of the city's busiest intersections. Brooksville becomes the latest municipality in the area to embrace the program, following Port Richey, which installed its first camera on March 19.

"It's great to know we have full support from our City Council," said police Chief George Turner, who pushed the proposal for the cameras. "A 5-0 vote is what we wanted. It shows that the program is definitely a worthwhile one."

The city would pay nothing to have the cameras installed, according to the proposal. Instead, American Traffic Solutions, a Scottsdale, Ariz., company, would install and care for the cameras and make its money by taking $40 from every $125 ticket issued to a violator.

Motorists who run red lights would be photographed by the camera twice, as the vehicle approaches the light and then crosses the intersection. The cameras would also shoot a video, which would be available for the violator to view online.

A police officer will view the video and ultimately determine if the driver broke the law. If so, the driver would be sent a ticket, which would be a civil, not criminal, citation.

City officials will work with American Traffic Solutions to determine which intersections could use the cameras. Turner has already recommended five intersections to be considered: U.S. 41 and State Road 50A; U.S. 41 and Wiscon Road; State Road 50A and Buck Hope Road; State Road 50A and Cobb Road; and State Road 50 and U.S. 98.

Greg Parks, regional vice president of ATS, said Monday that it would be at least 90 days before the first camera was installed in the city.

The council's unanimous vote ended nearly two months of debate about the need for cameras in Brooksville.

Mayor David Pugh and council member Joe Bernardini, in particular, initially raised concerns about whether the cameras could truly stop habitual offenders from running red lights. Two motorists' rights organizations also raised issues about the cameras, pointing to a recent study from a professor at the University of South Florida that concluded the cameras increase crashes and injuries as drivers slam on their brakes to avoid a ticket.

But on Monday, Pugh told the council he had been sold on the program.

"We've gotten away from doing what is right and what we're taught in driving school," Pugh said. The program "pretty much has brought me full circle. I now fully support this."

Bernardini voted for the measure but added a provision that would allow the council to review the program six months after the installation of the first camera.

"I want to … make sure that it's working," Bernardini said. "We should keep an eye on that."

In other action Monday night, the council voted 4-1 to approve an application to the Florida Department of Transportation for a $150,000 grant for additional landscaping along U.S. 41 and State Road 50/50A. Pugh cast the only vote against the application, expressing concern about spending more money on landscaping.

Joel Anderson can be reached at joelanderson@sptimes.com or 754-6120.

>>Fast facts

The first five?

George Turner, Brooksville's police chief, recommended that these five intersections be considered for red light cameras:

• U.S. 41 and State Road 50A

• U.S. 41 and Wiscon Road

• State Road 50A and Buck Hope Road

• State Road 50A and Cobb Road

• State Road 50 and U.S. 98.

Brooksville to get red-light cameras 04/22/08 [Last modified: Thursday, April 24, 2008 6:24pm]

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