Broward Politics: A Ban On Red Light Cameras?






Do you feel that red light cameras are an Orwellian violation of your rights?

If you are registered to vote in Pembroke Pines, you have a chance to do something about these cameras.

A little-noticed referendum in the August 18 primary asks voters whether they want to ban red light cameras in Pembroke Pines.  



The question on the ballot is simple. It is printed in capitol letters and bold faced type so there is no confusion:




The cameras work like this: A camera, usually on a poll or hung next to the red light, snaps photos of cars zipping through an intersection. Those found by the camera to be (allegedly!) running the red light gets a letter with a traffic ticket in the mail.

The cameras have been controversial since they began. 

Supporters, mostly City Commissioners and City Managers,  say the devices reduce traffic accidents. But statistics are mixed on whether they really prevent wreaks. 

Opponents say the cameras impose a hidden tax and are a violation of their rights.

Cities get a stream of extra money from all the tickets handed out based on the cameras. Best of all to some in City Hall, the money pours in without commissioners ever having to vote on it once the cameras are approved. 

Pembroke Pines’ camera collection appear largely hidden from the public, buried deep within the budget under the catch-all rubric of “fines.”  Digging through old budgets, a hint of how much Pembroke Pines picks the pockets of drivers can be found. 

When the program was first included in the budget in 2017, the fines category increased 41.8 percent —  to $1,267,651 from $730,438. The budget states that this increase was “primarily based” on the introduction of the cameras. 

That figure represents a lot of tickets, since each one costs a driver $158. Pembroke Pines doesn’t get all the money. 

Other than the money there are judicial questions involving red light cameras, according to many lawyers

Those ticketed by a red light camera must prove their innocence, rather than the authorities prove them guilty. That seems just plain wrong.

If a cop issued a ticket for running a red light, the officer has to prove the violation in court. The accused has a chance to face and ask questions of his accuser, the officer. 

But how do you confront a camera? By spending money, often a lot more than the $158 fine. 

You need witnesses to prove you didn’t run the light. What makes it worse is that local police can’t testify about the specific case. Only a camera saw the violation, not a cop. 

And what about that camera? Is it in good repair? When did it’s last maintenance occur? Have there ever been errors in recording or measuring the red light camera? Was the yellow light intentionally shortened to run up the number of tickets? 

Basically, anyone wanting to contest a ticket can’t build a defense against a camera alone. They need witnesses and that costs money. 

Voters will decide the fairness of all this in the primary. The results will only effect Pembroke Pines.

Will the results influence other cities? Maybe, but don’t count on it.

Too many City Commissioners have become addicted to the money the cameras provide to pump up their budgets.



5 Responses to “Broward Politics: A Ban On Red Light Cameras?”

  1. Rico Petrocelli says:

    I was in office when the company came to my house for a demonstration. This had nothing to do about Safety, it was ALL about MONEY flowing to the city. We had questions, but rejected it as a Council.

    I have received a Red Light ticket in Fort Lauderdale, and I had no recourse Buddy, just like you said. LOSE the cameras……Everywhere…

    Rico Petrocelli
    Plantation Councilman 2005-2009

  2. Well Said says:

    What is lacking in the piece is any reference at all as to the actual effectiveness of red light cameras at significantly curtailing unsafe driving habits….I


    As I mentioned, the research is mixed on this point. I have seen studies stating they improve safety and other studies stating they do nothing for stopping accidents.

    But when they sell the cameras to commissioners, the talk is all about the money. See Rico Petrocelli’s comments.

  3. Bob says:

    The state posts traffic citation and collection data online. No need to dig around in city budgets. The state gets the bulk of the revenue, but you’re right, it’s easy pickings for municipal officials to grab the crumbs.

    The results are mixed — less T-bone crashes but more rear-end crashes. In Fort Lauderdale, the decision for placement was NOT based on safety (i.e., at the most dangerous intersections) but rather where ever the city could find places to install the cameras, such as the entry to Holiday Park.

    Hope the voters in PP turn the cameras down — and it starts a trend to do the same across S Fla.


    Thanks for the research tip. I’ll remember it for the future.

  4. Stormwatch says:

    Some of us have known for years why those yellow lights keep getting shorter and shorter. Red Light cameras are a scam.

  5. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Voters emphatically banned red light cameras! A 76% supermajority voted “Yes” to terminate the red light cameras in Pembroke Pines.