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Measure to Cut Local Red-Light Camera Revenue Falters as Cities Cry Foul

| March 24, 2014

Not going anywhere yet. (Scott Akerman)

Not going anywhere yet. (Scott Akerman)

The key House proponent of eliminating red-light cameras ended his effort Monday to prohibit the installation of new cameras across the state.

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However, a senator seeking to ban the traffic-enforcement technology isn’t ready to put the brakes on his bill.

Members of the House Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee unanimously approved an amendment by Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, as they backed his measure (HB 7005). The bill now would allow new cameras at intersections but only if their use is justified through traffic engineering studies.

Meanwhile, Senate Transportation Chairman Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, said he intends to keep the Senate “on our current path” to repeal the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act of 2010, the state’s red-light camera law.

“I think ultimately what is going to happen is that the House is going to do what they’re going to do, and the Senate is going to come up with its own plan,” Brandes said after the House subcommittee voted. “And I think we will then enter into negotiations about what the overall policy of the Legislature will be.”

Brandes added that he may eventually have to make some concessions to other senators to get the measure to the floor.

Artiles’ amendment also would mandate that 70 percent of the local government revenue from the cameras go into safety measures and would require jurisdictions to shut off their cameras if they fail to provide annual camera-enforcement reports to the state.

“I just want to do something substantive that is going to help Floridians this year,” Artiles said.

In early February, Artiles and Brandes held a press conference in the Capitol to highlight a report from the Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability, the Legislature’s non-partisan policy office. The report found there were fewer fatalities but more crashes at electronically monitored intersections and that fines issued due to the technology cost motorists nearly $119 million last year.

Artiles said the state study didn’t provide a full picture of the impact of the cameras because numbers were not available from every area that uses the technology.

The Senate measure (SB 144) by Brandes, who contends the law hasn’t improved safety and that local governments are using the program to fuel their budgets, is expected to go before the Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday.

Artiles had initially proposed that the state ban new red-light cameras while reducing the fine from $158 to $83, eliminating the money local governments could collect.

South Pasadena Republican Rep. Kathleen Peters, while voting for the measure, questioned the state mandating how local governments could spend revenue from the cameras, noting state lawmakers decry whenever the federal government imposes such requirements on Florida.

But Artiles said the outcry from local governments over his initial proposal to eliminate the money demonstrated that the issue is strictly about money.

“It’s about revenue, it’s not about safety,” Artiles said. “What good is it for cities and counties and the state to collect this revenue and not implement it for safety purposes?”

Safety measure could range from adding LED lighting in traffic signals, extending yellow-light times in the signals and even hiring additional law enforcement, Artiles said.

Across Florida, at least 77 county and city governments operate red-light camera programs. However, some governments have been revisiting the cameras. For example, the St. Petersburg City Council has decided to end its program by the end of September.

–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

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10 Responses for “Measure to Cut Local Red-Light Camera Revenue Falters as Cities Cry Foul”

  1. Red light cameras have ALWAYS been about money. They are for-profit business partnerships that in Florida have three partners seeking profits. The state gets 52.5% of the money without paying any of the high camera costs, the cities split 47.5% of the money with a camera company. To be profitable, a camera system MUST ticket mostly safe drivers with one of two scams. 1) The yellow intervals are deliberately mis-engineered to be too short for the ACTUAL approach speeds of 85% of the vehicles, a malicious practice authorized and even encouraged by the Florida Department of Transportation since a rules change on yellow intervals in July 2011. As little as 1/2 second too short makes cameras a LOT more profitable. (2) Cameras ticket safe slow rolling right on red turns, actions that federal research shows are involved in only 0.4% of crashes at signalized intersections and only 0.06% of crashes with injuries or fatalities. Thus 99.6% to 99.94% of right on red tickets are about money, not safety.

    The only sure way to end the scams entirely is to ban the cameras entirely. Residents who want the cameras to end should CALL their state Senators immediately to ask them to lobby the Transportation Committee Senators to pass SB144 to ban the cameras which has a hearing on Wednesday the 26th.

    The scams CAN be ended if enough people demand it. Inaction will leave your pocketbook open and available for picking by red light cameras.

    James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

  2. Charles "Bub" Robson says:

    Get rid of the Money Sucking RLC’S they are Unconstitutional.

    • Blondie says:

      I got a right hand turn ticket it was not me driving but the car is in my name. I am hardly making ends meet so if you are late paying the $158.00 it turns into $264.00 then they give you a payment plan will if you dont get your payment on or before the payment date then you have to pay a fine and everything in full then it turns into $400. Today I got stuck in traffic due to the road construction today got to court house at 4:29 they would not be kind enough to unlock the doors and take my payment o guess what now it doubles again our county is being just like Palm Coast (I hate Palm Coast)

  3. Reaganomicon says:

    The actual presentation to the senate transportation committee can be found here:

    Of interest from the report:

    2010-2011 red light camera revenue: $16,666,670
    2012-2013 red light camera revenue: $52,663,609

    There’s also a fascinating table in the presentation talking about crash statistics. Adding cameras saw a 35% increase in rear end crashes, a 22% increase in angle crashes, a substantial decrease in sideswipe and head-on crashes, and a 12% decrease in other types of crashes. Without knowing how the statistics were generated, it’s impossible to say with any certainty as to whether or not the number of injuries occurring pre- and post- camera changed, and I’m a little skeptical regarding the decrease in deaths statistics because the numbers don’t look big enough to me. I can’t seem to find the actual report, just the presentation so I would appreciate it if someone (Pierre?) can link it.

  4. Gia says:

    Remove these road robbery, but any driver responsible for traffic accident ticket fine $1.000.

  5. Genie says:

    From a recent newsletter I received:

    “The Senate camera scheme repeal bill has been rescheduled from last week. It will now be heard on Wednesday March 26, 2014 at 1:30 PM in room 37 of the Senate Office Building. Since it was last scheduled, two important things have happened:

    The cities of Tampa and Palm Bay have voted to do away with the camera scheme. These cities join St. Petersburg, Margate, and Cocoa Beach in dropping the scheme in 2014.

    A March 20 news story from the Orlando Sentinel reports Apopka is considering dropping the scheme. Apopka is the largest money maker in central Florida, and was the 2nd city in Florida to use the scheme. It has consistently sent government lobbyists to Tallahassee to support the scheme since 2011.”

    My own issues with the cameras are this:

    I don’t believe there is enough evidence to show they have been helpful in anything other than raising money, which is why the policy is referenced above as a “scheme”.

    They most definitely do NOT allow due process, as pointed out by Judge Craig.

    And last, if Florida politicians really want to help Floridians, then there should be a law that states ANY company doing business WITH Florida, must have offices IN Florida. (In this case, this contract is with another state.)

    I’d rather hire more police or COPS and at least do something for jobs and the economy. This is OUR state; it does not belong to those in Tallahassee or those who we elect to run our local government.

  6. JtFlagler says:

    My kids were coloring a few months ago at the kitchen table. I thought I threw those pictures away. Could they possibly be the charts and grafts being used for the “studies”?

  7. General Elector says:

    Looks like the city council is desperate to go back to having low turnout elections that no one shows up to, but their friends. Now they want to create separate polling places to cause voters to have to go to two different places to vote. Desperation! It does not matter what tricks you come up with. We are going to vote you out.

    Do you want to get rid of the Red Light Cameras?
    Join us in the effort to remove them at the link below:

  8. Bill says:

    So I guess the city’s been lying to us all along by telling us the cameras are there for a safety factor. The truth is now known that the cameras are there to generate revenue. When does the out-of-control spending ever stop with government? This city council members have been lied to and they need to recall their decision to have all these red light cameras in the city of Palm Coast.

  9. Ben Dover says:

    They need to give it up , they abused the whole system all the way around, put way too many in town our size , rigged the lights , just a down and dirty deal from a bunch of filthy lying crooks , that ought to be locked up for the illegal nonsense they pull in everything they do from elections to stealing money out of utility funds , they ignore everything the towns people say or want , they are supposed to be working for us , instead they try to rob us anyway they can dream up , just gutter trash that belongs in jail

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