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Gutted Bill Restricting Red-Light Cameras Advances as Turn-On-Red Penalty Is Restored  

| March 24, 2015

Rep. Bryan Avila had less luck today getting his red-light camera restrictions through a House committee.

Rep. Bryan Avila had less luck today getting his red-light camera restrictions through a House committee.

The heart of Rep. Bryan Avila’s proposing to restrict the use of red-light cameras was its turn-on red provision: the bill would have ended tickets issued for such turns, except when an actual law enforcement officer issues them. Turn-on-red tickets account for the majority of red-light camera violations, Avila argues, and have little to nothing to do with safety, but rather with generating money for the state, for the private companies running right-light camera schemes and for cities and counties using them.

On March 11, Avila’s bill easily cleared its first hurdle unscathed, passing the House Highway and Waterway Safety Subcommittee, 12-1.

Avila’s bill (HB 7071) had less luck Tuesday. It cleared the House Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee, 7-3, but aside from facing a bit stiffer opposition, it also lost the turn-on-red provision: an amendment by Rep. George Moraitis Jr., the Fort Lauderdale Republican, easily won approval, reducing what’s left of the bill to two matters that have l nothing to do with drivers.

As it now reads, the bill’s only changes to existing law would require local governments to use certified mail, rather than first-class mail, to send out initial notices of violations. That would still be a considerable financial burden as mailing costs would increase from just under 50 cents to over $3 per violation. Governments are not allowed to pass that cost on to people being cited. The other proposed change would require local governments to use the money only on public safety programs.

Proposing his amendment, Moraitis was explicit that barring turn-on-red violations would have “a significant fiscal impact on local governments,” even as governments supportive of red-light cameras—including palm Coast’s—have insistently claimed that the cameras were not about the money. “Probably more than we want, there’s a lot of citations for right-turn on red,” Moraitis said, noting that restrictions are going “in the right direction, but maybe the original bill was just too far.”

Paul Henry of the Liberty Force Network, a retired law enforcement officer and an opponent of cameras in general, said “these right-turn on red violations,” he said, “are an  insignificant number of crashes in Florida. Highway safety, when they pout out their annual study, doesn’t even report them because they’re so insignificant.” Henry said different cities set different rules on their turn-on-red violations. “There’s not one red-light camera in this state that can lawfully measure speed,” he said, “and you have places like Tampa that say 18 miles an hour, you’ve got Sarasota, 25 miles an hour, 15 miles an hour in New Port Richie.” He cited several different examples.

For Palm Coast, red-light cameras have been a major point of contention for the public and the city council. But a spate of court decisions and lawsuits have forced the city to rethink its approach. The council agreed to reduce the number of cameras in town from 43 to five, and to end the current contract with American Traffic Solutions in 2017 instead of 2019. ATS is the private company that runs the system and profits—with the state—from most of the revenue.

The city administration will have to shoulder a larger share of the work to legally administer the system, even at its reduced impact.

Kathleen Peters, the Tampa Bay Republican, objected to the proposal to require cities to use certified mail for notices, calling it an unfunded mandate. She had some support on the committee, but what was left of the bill still got majority approval.

The bill’s future at this point is quite uncertain as it must still clear yet another committee and does not have a clear companion in the Senate.

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10 Responses for “Gutted Bill Restricting Red-Light Cameras Advances as Turn-On-Red Penalty Is Restored  ”

  1. David Ayres says:

    Nobody in this picture looks fun.

  2. gmath55 says:

    Probably didn’t go through because people are sleeping. LOL

  3. Freddy says:

    It is amazing that we the people vote such idiots for legislators. Include our city council.

  4. TaintedMeat says:

    A majority of red-light camera violations “have little to nothing to do with safety, but rather with generating money for the state.” I beg to differ. I’m trucking along doing 45 South on Belle Terre approaching Pine Lakes. I can see the intersection. I’m almost there. In fact, the front end of my car enters the intersection when BAM someone turning slower than a slug pulls directly in front of me and REFUSES to hit the gas pedal. Mind you, my reflexes are quite sharp (for now) and I can either slam on my brakes or, if I’m lucky, get in the next lane narrowly avoiding an accident. The slug proceeds to flip ME off because I was more concerned about saving my life than their pride/feelings/slugdome. I would surmise that a minority of red-light right turns has little to do with safety, whereas a majority of people are too lost in their own world or only look one way before they risk my life.

    • Pat says:

      No offense but it also stated that it was so insignificant that it wasn’t reported. I agree that people need to wake up but your one incident isn’t likely to be enough to change my mind. Turning on red shouldn’t be a crime when no one is around. I gather the pictures won’t show that when its taken day or night.

  5. Face It says:

    Red Light Cameras (RLCs) have ruined this community period! RLCs create a very stressful and dangerous driving environment that causes drivers to either hesitate or accelerate when approaching a green light, and slam on the brakes at the first shade of yellow. Some drivers even pull over and wait for the the light to turn red! Other drivers just get angry with the paranoid drivers, causing road rage!

    Face it, the RLCs have hurt business, home values and tarnished the Community’s image.

  6. Nalla C. says:

    What was the point of amending this if very little changed? This is what’s called “Going Through the Motions” so they can pretend They Did Something.

    What a bunch of con artists.

  7. Nancy N. says:

    Just more proof of who the legislature works for. And it isn’t “we the people”. Unless you are that portion of “we the people” that is a big corporate campaign donor.

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