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Are speed cameras the answer for Tampa’s Bayshore?

The city has no plans to install them and Florida has no law authorizing them. But one expert says it might help reduce speeding and crashes on Tampa’s scenic thoroughfare.
Speed cameras work similarly to these Clearwater red light cameras. Although 151 localities around the country use cameras to catch speeders, no city or county does in Florida.
Speed cameras work similarly to these Clearwater red light cameras. Although 151 localities around the country use cameras to catch speeders, no city or county does in Florida. [ Times ]
Published Jan. 21, 2020

TAMPA— To say speed cameras are controversial is an understatement.

The technology, similar to red-light cameras, allows police departments to remotely nab speeders. They’re used in New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and 148 other localities across the country.

But don’t look for them in Tampa anytime soon.

“We currently don’t have any plans for speed cameras,” said Ashley Bauman, spokeswoman for Mayor Jane Castor.

One local planner says the cameras have proven effective and would help reduce the chronic speeding on Bayshore Boulevard, in the news again after its third pedestrian fatality in less than two years.

Gena Torres, a project manager for the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization, said speed cameras would likely reduce pedestrian fatalities. The problem with Bayshore, she said, isn’t major design flaws, but speeding.

Excessive speed was a factor in all three deaths on Bayshore.

Related: Is Tampa's Bayshore Boulevard really that dangerous?

Speed cameras are common in many European countries and have been used in the United States since the 1980s. They are widely loathed by motorists.

But a New York pilot study found fatalities were reduced by more than half, and speeding tickets were also reduced by more than 50 percent after one year. The state has since greatly expanded the program, Torres said.

Tampa City Council member Bill Carlson said he has heard mixed reactions from his constituents about installing speed cameras. He has concerns about privacy issues.

Nine states allow speed cameras while 13 others have banned them. Florida is one of 28 states that has no law addressing their use. State lawmakers would have to enact enabling legislation for them to be used here, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.