Friday, November 17, 2017
Editorials

Poor results from red-light cameras

RECOMMENDED READING


As the St. Petersburg City Council weighs the fate of the city's red-light cameras today — a program Mayor Bill Foster wants to expand — it should acknowledge that money is the likely deciding factor. One year after St. Petersburg joined a host of other local governments seeking to raise revenue under the guise of making the streets safer, the results are far from satisfying. Without intervention by the council, Foster can expand the program, more city drivers will face $158 tickets, and the impact on traffic safety will be debatable.

Today's discussion comes after the council discovered from a private citizen that the mayor was planning to add nine more cameras to 22 already installed at 10 intersections across the city. Then an initially incomplete report from City Hall staff failed to include a 10 percent increase in total crashes at the intersections, as the Tampa Bay Times' Mark Puente recently reported.

City staff then added the data, claiming the omission was an oversight. But the results seem to bolster what critics have long claimed are the downside of red-light cameras. While crashes caused by red-light runners in the 22 intersections filmed by the cameras decreased by 43 percent in the first year of implementation, rear-end collisions were up 44 percent — significantly higher than at other high-crash intersections in the city without cameras.

Even revenue isn't a clear-cut win. The city collected just $707,226 in traffic fines, about 17 percent less than had been projected and $281,000 less than what the vendor, American Traffic Systems, was paid to run the cameras. The state was the biggest winner, collecting a combined $1.8 million.

During the recent recession, cash-strapped local governments in Florida embraced this new technology as a way to raise revenue and allegedly make streets safer. But now some are deciding they are more trouble than they are worth with less-than-expected revenues and, in some cases, additional legal costs. Last week, the Collier County Commission, one of the first local governments in Florida to install the cameras, voted 3-2 to get rid of them. The question today for St. Petersburg council members is whether the potential for a little more revenue outweighs the ambiguous traffic data. It doesn't appear to be worth it.

Comments

Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "I’m pleading to my brothers. You ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

St. Petersburg City Council members are poised to raise the minimum wage for contractors who do business with the city, a well-intended but misguided ordinance that should be reconsidered. The hourly minimum wage undoubtedly needs to rise — for every...
Published: 11/16/17

Editorial: Make workplaces welcoming, not just free of harassment

A federal trial began last week in the sex discrimination case that a former firefighter lodged against the city of Tampa. Tanja Vidovic describes a locker-room culture at Tampa Fire Rescue that created a two-tier system — one for men, another for wo...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Barely a week after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman promised to unite the city following a bitter and divisive campaign, his administration has fired an employee who dared to criticize him. It seems Kriseman’s own mantra of "moving St. Pete forwar...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

The University of South Florida recently surpassed its $1 billion fundraising goal, continuing a current trend of exceeding expectations. At 61 years old — barely middle age among higher education institutions — USF has grown up quickly. It now boast...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

American military members hurt in service to their country should not have to wait a lifetime for the benefits they deserve. But that’s a reality of the disability process at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which hasn’t made payi...
Published: 11/14/17

Editorial: Deputies’ rescue reflects best in law enforcement

The bravery two Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies showed a week ago is a credit to them and reflects the professionalism of the office.Deputies Benjamin Thompson and Trent Migues responded at dusk Nov. 11 after 82-year-old Leona Evans of Webster...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Another voice: An untrustworthy deal with Russia

President Donald Trump’s latest defense of Russian leader Vladimir Putin included — along with a bow to his denials of meddling in the U.S. election — an appeal to pragmatism. "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,"...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/14/17