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Bill Filed in Florida to Repeal Red-Light Cameras as State Report Points to Fewer Crashes

| January 5, 2013

Palm Coast watching you. (© FlaglerLive)

Palm Coast watching you. (© FlaglerLive)

A South Florida lawmaker filed legislation Friday to repeal the law allowing the use of red light cameras, following a report earlier this week that says intersections where they’re used have seen drops in crashes in most places.

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Rep. Daphne Campbell, D-Miami, filed legislation Friday seeking to end the use of the cameras, saying they unfairly dole out tickets to people who can’t defend themselves, noting that malfunctioning cameras can’t be cross-examined.

The fate of the legislation will be relevant to Palm Coast, where red-light cameras, first installed in 2007, have been alternately embraced and vilified. The Palm Coast City Council last year approved expanding the number of cameras to 52, in some cases against the Flagler County Commission’s objections. Several Florida courts have ruled–with conflicting decisions–on the legality of cameras installed before 2010, when the Florida Legislature legalized and regulated them. The Florida Supreme Court is expected to resolve the conflicts this year.

In other states, the backlash against red-light cameras is gaining ground. In New Jersey last week, the settlement of a class-action lawsuit involving cameras in 18 towns will lead to the partial refund of many tickets for up to 1 million drivers cited by way of cameras. The suit was filed charging that yellow-light timing was not properly certified. The suit ended in a $4.2 million settlement in favor of drivers, who would get at most $6 to $10 in refunds per ticket.

In California, San Bernadino is ending its contract with its red-light camera contractor, six months after Los Angeles ended its red-light camera program. Red Bank, Tenn., is also ending its contract this year. But other cities (among them Houston and Lakeland, Fla.) are either renewing their contracts or expanding it.

Meanwhile, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles released a report Thursday showing that crashes were less frequent at red light camera intersections, based on data from 73 agencies. The report said accidents were less frequent in intersections with cameras in 41 jurisdictions but up in such intersections in 11 jurisdictions.

The rest of the 73 jurisdictions where they are in use didn’t have the data, and the state didn’t say what the overall numbers were in the report, which was sent to lawmakers. “The most common improvements cited were, “according to the report, “reductions in drivers running red lights at intersections using cameras; reductions in red-light violations observed by law enforcement at all intersections; and an increase in cautious driving, jurisdiction-wide.”

Since state law was changed in 2010 to allow local governments to use the cameras to catch red light runners they’ve been under attack. A repeal effort was mounted starting the very next year in the Legislature.

Campbell’s legislation (HB 91) would repeal the state law that authorizes their use. The law also sets out how the money from such tickets is allocated. Before there was a state law, some local jurisdictions used them, but there was considerable confusion about whether they were legal. Even since the law has been passed, their use has continued to be challenged in court.

“The red light camera companies exploit victims to push Florida laws to gain millions,” Campbell said in a statement. “People are presumed guilty by the picture of the camera. The corporations are the ones making the money.”

The Florida League of Cities, however, said Friday that keeping the cameras is a top priority of local governments.

“Providing cities with the tools they need to keep residents safe is the Florida League of Cities’ No. 1 priority, and this technology has been proven to help authorities punish lawbreakers, reduce dangerous T-bone crashes and change the behavior of those drivers who selfishly choose to run red lights,” the league said in a statement.

Local governments don’t want to lose their share of the revenue from the $158 fines paid by people caught on red light cameras, but also say their law enforcement budgets are strained and the cameras help them enforce laws they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

“While the data in this report suggests a significant positive effect on traffic safety, the Florida League of Cities believes the government closest to the people governs best, and nobody knows a city better than its residents,” the league’s statement said. “Some municipalities have determined that red light running is not a problem in their community and have chosen not to install traffic infraction detectors. Other cities, after holding public hearings and listening to concerned citizens, have determined that red light safety cameras will make their streets safer.”

Campbell’s bill is yet to be assigned to a committee.

–News Service of Florida and FlaglerLive

Palm Coast watching you. (© FlaglerLive)

Palm Coast watching you. (© FlaglerLive)


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16 Responses for “Bill Filed in Florida to Repeal Red-Light Cameras as State Report Points to Fewer Crashes”

  1. Chenzo says:

    What can we do as locals to help get rid of these garbage tools to bring in incremental revenue to the city on other peoples mistakes?

  2. Anon says:

    This bill will go about as far as the bill that was filed to recall the governor and cabinet.

  3. Jack Howell says:

    Maybe it’s time for our City leaders to acknowledge they don’t really know a thing about these red light cameras or traffic accident investigation. I have spoken to several rescue and law enforcement honchos and none of these agencies provided data to the City high lighting where the placement of these cameras should be located. As a matter of fact, I was told by one City councilman that the placement of these cameras is up to the vendor. The City has very little say. That being said, I would love for the City Manager to let the public see the data or lack thereof. I also question the City’s staff expertise on this!

    I know what I am talking about as I graduated from the Northwestern University Traffic Institute and I am a court certified expert witness, in several States, on accident investigation & reconstruction. Additionally, I taught accident investigation to police recruits at the Jacksonville, FL sheriff’s academy for several years. I would challenge the so called City experts on the Red Light Camera capper to match their knowledge base with me!

  4. confidential says:

    I was originally positive about having cameras in the 2 main intersections of Palm Coast Parkway in Cypress Point corner to Walmart and Old Kings Road as I saw thru out the years so many accidents caused by red light violations. But actually the current proliferation of cameras all around us just for profit purposes is a clear abuse against city residents. Last week we made a left turn on green in Cypress Point going to Lowe’s, just to be stop in the middle of the intersection by some car ahead of us suddenly with unexpected engine trouble. I managed to steer in the right line to avoid the red…but some cars stuck in line behind us didn’t make it. Wonder how many got a ticket…and a very unfair one, as they turned as we did with green into Cypress Point. I do not even think these so many cameras are even properly working, given the fact that there is no time that I go by them that I do not see them flickering, means as many fines…? just money making machines, not for traffic safety. Also the technicians are often working on them so that alone makes me wonder how many drivers are receiving undeserving fines. One more reason to make us plan to move the first chance we will have. The access to Walmart from Cypress Point is too small and restricted for the generated traffic. I wonder if Walmart and or the Hospital paid for all that expensive side walk and traffic access remodeling lately…..or we all did. I already so a driver accidentally running over that almost invisible yellow triangle installed.. City overdone with cameras.

  5. The Truth says:

    I understand the concept behind red light camera’s and those who support them — don’t run a red light and they won’t affect you. My concern with these cameras is this: as I approach an intersection with them, I have essentially pick a point where if the light turns yellow I slam on my brakes and stop. I don’t speed, I don’t drive recklessly. Unfortunately, rather than using my natural instinct as a long time driver, I am forced to get just a little more tense with these lights. I have never ran a red light, and always drive very cautiously but between the timing of the lights at these intersections and those in front and behind you, this seems to have caused a dangerous situation.

    I also feel that Palm Coast looks very tacky with these lights at every intersection. They’re everywhere — nearly every intersection even SR100 has these camera’s up. I feel the only way we will be able to get rid of them is to simply stop running red lights. Unfortunately, this can sometimes be out of our hands since the timing of the yellow lights at some of these intersections are very questionable.

  6. James C. Walker says:

    What most people don’t know is the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) changed the rules in July 2011 on how cities calculate the yellow light intervals. The new rules allow cities to deliberately and maliciously set the yellow intervals too short for the ACTUAL approach speeds of vehicles. This tricks thousands of very safe drivers into tripping the red by a few tenths of a second because the yellows are too short for safe stopping times and distances. BUT, the driver who trips the red by say 0.4 seconds will clear the intersection during the short all-red phase before the cross traffic can arrive. These drivers that get the split second violations which are almost all of the tickets present virtually zero risks of causing the dangerous angle or t-bone crashes.

    The cities understand the scam, the camera companies promote their products on the basis of the scam, and FDOT facilitated the scam with the July 2011 rules change. The state gets $83 of each $158 ticket without paying any of the high camera costs, so can you connect the most important DOT on why the rules were changed? (pun intended).

    Florida residents need to support Rep. Campbell’s bill and contact all their Representatives and Senators to ask them to actively and continuously support the bill until it is passed and signed. Let the legislators know this is an issue which can seriously influence how you will vote in the future.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  7. Mr. Magoo says:

    If you drive backwards thru the intersections with camera’s, will they still take a picture ?

  8. John Boy says:

    This is simply another scam that private business has created to milk the public. American Traffic Solutions is owned by Goldman Sachs and Bain (Mitt Romney). The publican should never allow private business and government to conspire against public citizens. If this was ever such a great idea, why did the cities not initiate the use and deployment of cameras themselves. I bet if we could ever get to the bottom of this, we would find the pockets of local politicians filled with cash.

    • Correct John Boy.

      And another major contractor, Redflex, is an Australian company so some of the money leaves the US economy for good.

      All the major red light camera cash register companies use lobbyists to influence legislators to allow their predatory products. Sometimes it becomes a revolving door. They former FL legislator that got the law through to allow cameras in 2010 got a plush job for a front group that LOOKS like a grass roots organization in favor of cameras, but is actually a group funded by a camera company to lobby for more cameras nationwide.

      The red light camera industry creates for-profit business partnerships between camera vendors and their state and local business partners. It is 99.999% about money, not safety. It should be banned.

      James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  9. Lonewolf says:

    These cameras have worked well where ever they have been installed. The people who contend that they might get rear-ended are not supported by the facts. Those accidents are less in addition to T-bone types. What really worried me is people who feel they have the god-given right to run red lights if they want. I wonder if they would feel like that if a red-light runner killed a child in a cross walk…what if it was them that did it?

    • erkme73 says:

      Pathetic logic – and one of the key reasons this state (and the country) is an embarrassment to the principles of our constitution. But that aside, Lonewolf, answer this:

      If 99% of the drivers ticketed are those that entered the intersection when the light was red for less than one second (so-called fractional runners), where is the risk? The all-directions-red time is 1-3 seconds at all intersections. Such fractional runners would be out of the intersection well before cross traffic even saw a green light. In other words, the safety risk of these “red light runners” is ZERO.

      Yet, oddly enough, all the horrific crash videos (taken, ironically by these very same red light cameras) show red light runners entering an intersection where cross traffic is already proceeding through. Do you think those t-bone crashes were from people trying to beat the light? Do you think they were suicidal and were playing Russian Roulette? Or, do you think they were distracted, drunk, or texting – in which case they never even say the light? Hint: It’s the latter choice.

      And, that being the case, NO red light camera will prevent that. It’ll only capture the crash.

      So, let’s summarize: The RLC’s catch split-second runners that pose NO risk to other motorists. They have NO effect on preventing t-bone accidents by drunk/distracted drivers. They increase the number of rear-end accidents (see NHSTA website for stats). Case closed.

  10. PJ says:

    The Municipalities use this as a money maker, PERIOD.

    If you want safety then invest in the extended yellow or the sensor that holds the light yellow longer until the intersection is clear.

    This sensor will hold the light yellow even when traffic keeps cars in the crosswalk thus making things safer.

    Otherwise its just an excuse for making cash.

    Most of the Cities that embrace this red light camera system are cities that are in trouble with their budgets.

    Sounds familiar, like Plam Coast.

    Poorly run City government embraces the red light cameras they also embrace fees and the embrace increases in the property tax rate. SOUNDS FAMILIAR AGAIN.

    When I can ask a camera who was driving my car is when I’ll feel ok about paying a ticket that I may have caused. Or confirm the last time the yellow light was set at the DOT standard.

    What a joke………………………….PJ

  11. tulip says:

    @CONFIDENTIAL–if a situation like you mentioned occurs, or any other similar situation like that, whoever looks at the video can see that on the camera pic and people won’t get a “ticket”, especially if it’s multiple vehicles involved at the same time. If by chance they do, they can go to the city and explain it, and, most likely will void the ticket.

    If the cameras were totally taken away, I’m afraid our accident rate will rapidly increase because of the morons out there who will then disobey traffic rules “because they can.”

  12. Camera shy says:

    Things to come as we slide down the slippery slope!!!!!

    Next, radar speed violation camera’s on every major street with tickets to the owner of the vehicle because he/she is presumed the driver by law?

    Then, every vehicle owner who has a global positioning chip in their car (On STAR etc.) will receive a ticket in the mail every time they exceed a speed limit (My Garmen knows the speed i am supposed to travel at). What a great way to make us safe!

    Camera’s to make sure we are wearing our seat belt. Click it or ticket the vehicle owner/presumed driver.

    Camera’s to make sure your vehicle/registration tag is on the plate, or automatic suspension of your license and a ticket.

    Camera’s to make sure vehicles are not driving too slow as to impede traffic, or the vehicle owner gets a ticket.

    Camera’s for any other violation one can think of.

    I’d like to see a stop to these cameras. I prefer privacy and good ole fashion excellent police work to the indiscriminate camera. At least a sheriff can tell if it is a violation worth a ticket. Also, one can prepare immediately to defend an unjust ticket written by an officer at the scene, and cross examine an officer at a hearing (a camera can’t speak), and the true driver gets the ticket by the sheriff (not the presumed driver/vehicle owner).

  13. Kevin says:

    It simple vote city counsel out with thier red light scam in the process get a new city maneger who makes less the red light camaras will come down until then report palm coast to aaa as a do not stop or vacation town that thie crooks

  14. Mel Bronson says:

    I NO longer go to Palm Coast to shop. No unjustified RIGGED traffic cameras for me!

    STAY CLEAR of Palm Coast and shop elsewhere. BE SAFE!!!

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