I’m pleased that by the end of the month a number of red light cameras will be operating at some of the busiest intersections in town. I’m not pleased that it took so long for them to get here.
You’d think that the state capital would be in the forefront of these things, but I guess that’s too much to hope for the yahoos that run the city government. Many Florida cities and counties, including Orlando, Ocala, Hillsborough (Tampa) and Broward (Ft. Lauderdale) counties, installed red light cameras as long as two years ago.
These communities passed ordinances making red light running a civil infraction, similar to a parking ticket. That legal maneuver meant the offense did not have to be witnessed by a sworn law enforcement officer. A camera is the witness. And like a parking ticket, the vehicle’s owner pays the fine. (If the owner wasn’t driving, he or she can identify the driver so that individual can be fined.)
Is it any surprise that red light cameras brought two results? The first being a dramatic reduction in red light running and crashes at the intersections where they were located? And yes, the second being a nice revenue stream for the community. I have no problem with either of those.
My preference is that red light runners be killed or so seriously injured that they could no longer drive. That would ensure they’d not be repeat offenders. But paying a hefty fine is an acceptable alternative for those folks who think their time is so important that they injure and kill thousands of innocent folks each year.
And that fine isn’t the only repercussion. What do you think will happen to those folks’ insurance rates when their policy comes up for renewal and there’s a red light ticket on their record?
Of course, money is like blood in the water. And the Florida Legislature, the biggest shark in the state, decided that it needed some of that action rather than let the locals keep all that money. So in this year’s session, it passed a uniform red light camera law. Under that law, the State will receive a bit over half of all the revenue from any red light camera in the state. The revenue the State receives will be used to fund trauma centers and brain / spinal injury research.
When my city was considering red light cameras, a study of the busiest intersection in town was done. Over a 16-hour period on one weekday, the red lights at that intersection were run over 450 times. At the second busiest intersection, it was over 200 times. Do the math on red light running per hour at those intersections.
That’s why only visitors head into an intersection immediately after a green light. Residents know that someone is probably going to run the red light and so we wait a few seconds and look to see who’s coming from either direction.
That probably should be SOP in a lot of other cities…