OLDSMAR — Get ready to say cheese, red light runners. You soon may be caught on camera.
Come January, surveillance devices will be rolling as you blow through some Oldsmar intersections.
This is just a test run. You won't be fined, cited or even notified of offenses.
Oldsmar only wants to study the frequency of red light violations in the city. Beyond anecdotes and perception, no one knows for sure the extent of the problem.
That's why the City Council asked American Traffic Solutions, a Scottsdale, Ariz., company that runs red light camera programs in Kenneth City and Brooksville, to monitor traffic patterns and present its findings in late January or early February.
The city has not finalized which intersections will be targeted during the two-week study. Oldsmar has a dozen traffic signals on state roads to choose from.
"They will be selected from that list," City Manager Bruce Haddock said Tuesday night after the council's 5-0 vote for the study, "but I don't anticipate it being all 12 of those."
Vice Mayor Jerry Beverland knows of a few places he would like to see the temporary cameras. Monday, he started out from his Pine Avenue S home around 5:30 a.m.
"I've never seen so many red light runners in my life," he said. "You take your life into your own hands on Tampa Road, Forest Lakes Boulevard and 580."
Oldsmar has been discussing red light cameras for months. More than 300 cities in two dozen states have already mounted them.
Proponents of the program argue the motivation is safety, not dollars.
But anybody following the news knows that red light cameras are moneymakers.
Brooksville projects $1.1 million in revenues by March 2010.
Port Richey has collected $223,805 since its first camera went up in May 2008.
Hillsborough County, which will start mailing out citations on Dec. 30, expects to take in $2.4 million a year.
Temple Terrace has amassed more than $1.4 million in fines since October 2008.
How much Oldsmar stands to make if it installs cameras is unknown. Since discussions started, dollar figures have not been mentioned.
American Traffic Solutions won't charge Oldsmar anything for the study, Haddock said.
"The city at this point would not be obligated to actually enter into a contract or adopt an ordinance," Haddock said.
"Basically, after the study is done, the City Council could determine not to do anything else and that would be the end of it."
If Oldsmar does hire American Traffic Solutions or any other company, it would be only the second city in Pinellas County to do so.
Last month, Kenneth City became the first.
The penalty for running a red light there is $231 and a requirement that the driver attend a driver improvement course.
Rodney Thrash can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4167.