Bill To Curb Red Light Camera On Life Support

 

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

 

With roughly one month to go in the Legislative session, the bill to limit red light cameras is on live support.

Senate Transportation Chair Jeff Brandes’ measure, which would curtail the ability of local governments to install the cameras, was temporarily postponed in the Transportation Committee last week.

The bill ( SB 144 along with a committee substitute) is still alive, barely. With half the 2014 Legislative session gone, it still must pass three Senate committees, including Transportation, and then make it through the House.

The fate of this bill depends on how much the cameras matter to Brandes.  One of the bill’s co-sponsors is state Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Parkland.

The St. Petersburg Republican Transportation Chair could tack the issue on other important transportation bills. The question is whether Brandes wants to give up a chit to get it passed against fierce lobbying by opponents, including many cities and counties.

The state receives $62.45 million annually from red light violations caught by the cameras, with the bulk of the money going into the general budget.

The cities and counties who hand out the violations receive a little less of the total money.

Among other provisions, the bill would require other safety measures to be tried first at intersections before cameras are installed.  It also would restrict the use of fines and end that revenue for cities and counties.

The Senate Transportation Committee staff noted that the value of the cameras was not proven. “Research reveals numerous studies of the impact of red light cameras on crashes and fatalities, and the studies are contradictory,” the staff report states.

 



26 Responses to “Bill To Curb Red Light Camera On Life Support”

  1. JTR says:

    Consistent enforcement throughout the state must be fixed NOW. Each and every pod uncut town, city,etc each have there own traffic law interpretations. Whatever gets them the most money. The local governments in this state are the most corrupt I have ever seen.

  2. David says:

    Following the $. Lobbyists supporting the red-light camera factions will not allow the bill to emerge from committee(s). Why not shine some light on the lobbylist(s) and their agenda which is not consistent with that of the Florida citizenry.

  3. Michell Rubinstein says:

    Great idea! Without the Cities and Counties receiving their cut of the revenue, they would have no real reason to keep the cameras. After all, it was the money they were looking for in the first place.

  4. Floridan says:

    Studies indicate that intersections with red light cameras have a lower number of serious and fatal accidents.

    This should be enough, but . . . don’t run red lights and the cameras become a non issue.

    FROM BUDDY:

    The state Senate staff wrote that studies have not conclusively proved anything about red light cameras.

  5. Floridan says:

    The state Senate staff wrote that studies have not conclusively proved anything about red light cameras.

    Senator: I need a report that backs up my position.

    Staff: The preponderance of evidence is on the other side.

    Senator: Did I not make myself clear?

    Staff: Yes sir.

  6. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Buddy,

    Here’s the thing about being a cynic. Cynics believe everything is a lie, so they’re confounded when confronting the truth. The paradox is almost sinful. On the other hand, we have the plight of the gullible. They think everything said is true. The gullible are are fooled by lies.

    Which of these is the greater sin?

    To be fooled by the truth? Or by a lie?

    You decide.

    Cynics tend to be pessimists which, face it, are a drag to have around if you’re trying to fix a problem. Cynics need problems to exist so they can self justify. People who question are not cynics, so long as their questions are honest ones, seeking light not heat, otherwise they’re just being passive aggressive.

    The gullible tend to be optimists, they are the ones that you want around you when you want to solve a problem. But they can’t be so carried away that they fail to ask tough questions. Some optimists are lazy and others just don’t probe because they trust too much, either of those approaches will not work.

    The smarter approach always is to avoid either extreme. To be hopeful but questioning. To be upbeat but careful. To be unafraid but responsible. Those problem solvers have a thing called discretion. They are devoted to solving problems but have a method to getting to supportable conclusions.

    They don’t guess. They study, they ascertain and then they act.

    The last time you wrote about this repeal bill, I recall mentioning that it would die and it has. That wasn’t me being cynical.

    The reason is simple.

    Red light cameras are a legitimate and effective means to enforce the law. None of the innocent pay. Only the violators. And this lie about cities rolling in dough on red light camera revenue is pure invention. Such is not the case.

    I’m thankful that in this one instance you seem to be coming closer to that conclusion. But I’ve encouraged you to do a simple examination.

    Anyone can ask and get how much money a city collects for their red light camera program. They cans ee the actual bills paid, they can calculate for themselves how much if any is left over.

    Nobody has to guess. Yet curiously some continue to want to guess. See, their views are easier to support if they don’t have the actual facts.

    They’re cynics.

    Years ago, when our city was confronted by residents and cops and businesses and others asking that we get a grip on road safety in our city, we listened and held hearings, did our homework. And we took a chance on red light cameras.

    It was a decision that paid off — not with money. But with safety. We lose money.

    All the bellyaching in the world won’t change the fact that we cut intersection t-bone accidents by 46%, experienced fewer fatalities and cut violations issued by 48% proving beyond the shadow of any reasonable doubt that driving behavior can be improved through this cost effective enforcement tool, without raising taxes, paid for exclusively by red light runners, at no cost whatsoever to those who drive safely.

    It’s just a no brainer.

    I don’t regret that decision or helping to make my city safer and thankfully I live in a community that overwhelmingly sees it the same way. We stop for red lights in my city not just because it’s the law but also because we have respect for others.

    Peace, and drive safely.

    Angelo

    FROM BUDDY:

    You may have cut accidents, but other cities have seen no change in accident rates and have discontinued the program.

    There is no one size fits all. This is an issue for home rule, with some strong controls from Tallahassee. For instance, I personally believe that the hearing process is flawed and a number of judges agree with me, the most recent one in Daytona Beach.

    Red light cameras remain controversial. That is why the issue doesn’t die in Tallahassee.

  7. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    The cameras work. I got bagged- yup. A1A North turning left onto Oakland Pk, and two weeks later poof the ticket appeared in the mail. 158.oo bucks down the drain. Never got another one. They work. Slow down people…..

  8. Michell Rubinstein says:

    Buddy, your comment to Commissioner Castillo has brings great merit to the auestion. And yes Angelo, writes on and on and says nothing.

  9. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Buddy,

    You’d have to show that in numbers. I question whether any city in Broward that ran a properly created red light camera enforcement program failed to see reductions in red light running, accidents and, over time, reductions in violations. I seriously question that any red light camera program properly run would fail to improve driving behavior.

    If you’re really interested in drilling down to the truth of the question ask for the statistics. Ask how the programs were put into place.

    Absent that data, these blanket statements the statement being made is inherently suspect.

    Sometimes one size does fit all and more people stopping for red lights always means safer roads.

    As to the controversy, mostly that’s folks that don’t like the idea of better enforcement. As to why this won’t die in Tallahassee, you know that answer better than me. It raises lots of money for re-elections. Another reason to support campaign finance reform.

    The business with judges is also kind of funny given this is a program with over 20 years or more of success throughout the US and the world. Most people that don’t like red light cameras simply don’t want to get caught by one.

    That’s not controversy. That’s lawlessness mixed with recklessness and an dash of hubris.

    Angelo

  10. no way says:

    The largest red light camera company in the country is bank rolled by Goldman Sachs. What does that tell you! ALL ABOUT THE MONEY BABY!

  11. Chaz Stevens, Festivus says:

    City Activist Robert Walsh says:
    I got bagged- yup.

    Walsh, that comes as no shock. I hope your hugged your partner after and made sure to wash your hands.

  12. JTR says:

    Commissioner,
    I am not talking about all infractions that are caught. I am talking about violations that cited by communities that do not match Florida State Law. Right turn on red for example. This crazy NON SPECIFIED 3 second required to be stopped or you get a citation which is then heard by “administrative hearing officer, ” a bureaucrat not a judge. You will always lose, even while being safe and complying with the State statute. Stopping the use for reckless left turns in front of oncoming traffic is not the issue with the misuse and abuse of these cameras.

  13. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    JTR:

    NO city should have EVER done right turn on red enforcement with cameras. Mine never did. Too many variables that are unfair to the driver. And frankly, right turn on red does not cause very many accidents.

    Like I said above a “properly structured” red light camera program includes certain well designed operating principles.

    There is signage telling motorists they are approaching a camera enforced signal. We want motorists to know, gotcha is not the goal of the program. Deterrence is the goal.

    You begin the program with a 6 month, no fine, trial period where you mail out the violations to red light runners, with pictures, and with video available on the internet, and you tell them.

    HEY!!

    Your car was seen going through a standing red light. Correct your behavior before you kill somebody.

    You make sure a good cop reviews each and every violation picture and video to confirm that the violation was correct. It didn’t involve a yellow light scenario. It didn’t involve an intersection hold up and the light turned. It was legitimately a car violating a standing red light. When in doubt, you do not cite the owner. You give the benefit of every doubt to the motorist. That’s the way to do this correctly and that’s how we do it in my city.

    You make damned sure that your yellow lights are the correct duration as approved by FDOT and county engineering. I check mine constantly and so do staff. If any of you ever see a yellow light on Pines Blvd. that does not last at least 4 seconds, call me personally and tell me.

    This business of signals being manipulated so that tickets can be issued should be made a crime. We don’t play that in my city and neither should any other.

    If you do the program right, it’s very fair, very effective and you get safety results. Driving behavior does change for the better, it can’t help but do so. In fact, my hope and efforts remain that as claims go down so should auto insurance for the residents of those cities that provide added safety. Fewer claims should absolutely and always result in less premium paid.

    Angelo

  14. JTR says:

    Well bravo for your community! But what about all the other many jurisdictions that aren’t in it for anything other than the money? This is where the statutes and the courts need to slap some hands.

    FROM BUDDY:

    Repeated studies have shown that many cities use them for revenue. In addition, many studies have shown that the cameras increase rear end collisions.

    This from USA Today late last year:

    “Three years ago, these red-light cameras were pitched as safety devices,” said state Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican who has proposed a state ban on the cameras. “Instead, they’ve been a backdoor tax increase.”

    A 2012 audit in St. Petersburg showed the number of dangerous side-impact collisions did decrease at intersections where the red-light cameras had been installed. However, rear-end collisions actually increased at those intersections, as more drivers stopped short to avoid violations….opponents say the diversion of camera revenue into general state and city budget coffers is proof the programs are about money, not safety. In a policy paper from the Transportation Research Board at the National Academy of Sciences, researchers recommended that camera revenues be used exclusively for transportation projects.

    The International Association of Chiefs of Police recommends the same thing. “Red-light cameras should be implemented only to benefit public safety,” Richard Ashton of the group recently wrote in Police Chief magazine. “Unfortunately, too many jurisdictions have obtained red-light cameras to generate revenue.”

    …new research from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute shows that red-light cameras do not reduce all kinds of accidents in every location. After studying 254 intersections in 32 Texas towns, researchers observed that when cameras were placed at intersections where drivers frequently ran through red lights, the number of serious crashes declined by up to one-third. But there was an increase in dangerous rear-end collisions.

    Meanwhile, at intersections where red-light violations were infrequent, installing cameras just increased rear-end collisions, without reducing the number of other kinds of accidents.

    As I wrote before, one size does not fit all.

  15. Duke says:

    The most valuable commodity in the world is time. It’s the only thing that cannot be replaced. People who want to squeeze the lemon are not bad drivers. They just have places to go, people to see, and things to do.

    On the other hand, you have the stoners and the drunks and the texters who run red lights simply because they never saw the light. A much different scenario than the guy squeezing the lemon. No red light camera can ever fix that.

    Yellow lights use to be much longer. You had more lemon to squeeze. Then somebody figured out that you can give people less lemon to squeeze and make a lot of money.

    Red light cameras are a scam predicated on reduced yellow times. They do not make an intersection safer. The scam was exposed long ago. Most political leaders know it’s bullshit but they’re in the pocket of the lobbyists.

    Some of us actually pay attention, govern ourselves accordingly, and accept it as what it is and move on.

    I just wish some of these jive ass politicians would realize that you can fool some us some of the time, but not all of us all of the time. Matter of fact, you don’t fool me at all. Ever.

  16. Chaz Stevens, Festivus says:

    If it’s not about revenue, then how about donating the cash to charity?

    Maybe one of mine:

    * Women in Distress
    * ACLU
    * Amnesty Int’l
    * Chaz Wants To Relocate to The Caymans

  17. Floridan says:

    Rear end collisions are not the fault of red light cameras, but rather the fault of the trailing driver. I believe the law in Florida is that, with rare exceptions, the second driver is assumed to be negligent in a rear-ender for not maintaining adequate space between his car and the one in front.

  18. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @17 – so when studies show a large increase in rear-end collisions after red light camera installation, that’s due to a sudden surge of driver negligence? Because drivers should always be expecting the vehicle in front of them to abruptly slam on the brakes hard in fast-moving traffic on Broward County’s crowded roads, right?

    Gosh, Floridian, aren’t there MORE ways we could cause rear-end collisions and then blame them on drivers? Why not just have large trees or concrete light poles fall across the road at random times, and then blame drivers for not stopping fast enough?

    Let me guess – you work in either a medical facility that treats whiplash victims or a vehicle body repair shop, right? Or maybe you’re just an ambulance-chasing lawyer…

  19. Floridan says:

    Here are the conclusions of the aforementioned Texas A&M report:

    If installed at locations with significant red light running crashes and/or violations, over a group of intersections, red light cameras:
     Substantially reduce red light violation rates;
     Reduce crashes that result from red light running;
     Usually reduce right-angle collisions;
     May result in an increase in rear-end collisions;
     May or may not reduce total crashes, but rarely result in a substantial increase; and
     Usually reduce crash severity by virtue of reducing the more severe right-angle crashes
    while sometimes increasing the less severe rear-end collisions.

    Red light cameras are to aid enforcement and should not be considered a substitute for proper
    traffic engineering of signalized intersections. If a signalized intersection has been analyzed and
    all reasonably practical measures have been taken to help drivers see the signals, and if red light
    running still persists, increased enforcement by red light cameras or other means will likely be
    effective.

  20. Floridan says:

    @18 “ Because drivers should always be expecting the vehicle in front of them to abruptly slam on the brakes hard in fast-moving traffic on Broward County’s crowded roads, right?

    That’s pretty much what state law says.

  21. Real Deal says:

    Shall all fines go to charity? How about lowering my taxes or costs to run my city? Is that not a better charity?

  22. Real Deal says:

    Ha: No. It’s due to assholes like you who can’t seem to stop for red lights or keep a safe distance from the cars ahead of them.

    What children you folks are. Just drive safely and stop with your childish excuses. If you get caught, man up and pay the fine. Geez.

  23. Duke says:

    How do the Florida state statutes define yellow lights and what they mean? Does the statute say that yellow means stop.. or does it say that yellow means proceed with caution? Technically, if you stop on a yellow light, you are breaking the law. I know that sound ludicrous to some folks, but when ya actually read the statute, that what it says. Proceed with caution.
    I have to laugh at the transportation engineering folks and the politicians with their silly insinuations that somehow 4 seconds is an adequate amount of time for a yellow light. Anyone who has been driving since the 50′s will tell you how much longer yellow lights were right up until about the year 2000. That’s when yellow times suddenly got a lot shorter and all of this red light camera bullshit started. It’s going to take a governor with nads or a class action lawsuit to finally get these scammers off our backs.

    FROM BUDDY:

    The State of Florida Driver’s Handbook describes a yellow light this way: “Stop if you can. The light will soon be red.”

  24. Duke says:

    So we have a state issued Driver’s handbook that says “Stop if you can. The light will soon be red”.. and a state statute that says “proceed with caution.”

    What we need is longer yellow times and a numeric countdown system on yellow lights to eliminate the guess work.

  25. Broward Voter says:

    I have lived in Broward County for nearly 50 years never once got a red light ticket. Once years ago I got a speeding ticket near Tampa. Have never been in an accident either thank Goodness. I drive every single day and I credit that record to driving the way I was taught. Not too fast and not too slow. Never in a hurry and be mindful of other cars. If you drive with responsibility there isn’t anything you need to fear from a police officer or a camera enforcement tool.

  26. Duke says:

    Congratulations on your good driving record. I’ve been driving in south Florida since 1975 and I’ve never gotten a red light camera ticket either. I don’t need to get one in order to realize that 4 second yellow lights are inadequate and the red light camera game is a scam.
    There’s a red light camera at the intersection of Oakland Park Boulevard and University Drive that snaps thousands of pictures a day of people making a full stop at westbound Oakland Park Boulevard then making a right turn and proceeding north on University Drive. Are these tickets being issued or does the city have to hire someone to look at the footage and verify what really occurred?
    Plenty of folks who drive responsibly get screwed by red light cameras and police officers who don’t always pay attention or have an agenda.