Hello Red Light Cameras

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…


10 responses to “Hello Red Light Cameras

  1. Would that busiest intersection be Tennessee and Monroe? In any case, the way they performed that “study” is that the cameras have been in place–all over the city–for years. I forget what precipitated it, but I had a conversation with the downtown police officer regarding the cameras, and he explained to me that they could only be viewed in real time. They were not allowed to record, or use any evidence from them–but I knew then that the red light law had to be coming, and they must have known, otherwise they would not have spent the money for the cameras.

    • > Tennessee and Monroe?

      Of course.

      As for the study, what I read was that they had “live” folks out there.

      As for the cameras, I think the “original” purpose was so they could see what the traffic was looking like at busier intersections and so adjust the signal timing accordingly.

  2. In a separate incident, I was once stopped at the red light at the intersection of Jefferson and Duval, going west on Jefferson into the Kleman Plaza parking garage. When the light turned green, I started into the intersection (there is a camera there!) and a beer truck (!) going north on Duval ran the red light. I literally saw it out of the corner of my eye, slammed on the brakes and the truck missed me by inches.
    I was so mad that I chased down the truck and caught him several blocks away, where he had parked to make a delivery. I pulled up behind him and called the aforementioned police officer on my cell phone. Whereupon we had that same conversation about the cameras. The camera would have caught it, but because it was not recorded, the evidence was in the wind. The officer did offer to call the beer distributor and report the incident, “A citizen has reported that one of your drivers…”, etc., which was nice.
    Meanwhile, the driver returned to the truck and I jumped out of the car screamed at him a lot 🙂

  3. I hope that these cameras produce the intended result of reducing accidents. I believe the MN Supreme Court struck down the legality of such cameras here.

  4. “My preference is that red light runners be killed or so seriously injured that they could no longer drive.”

    I’m told there is a provision to one of the constitutional amendments that carries a double penalty to smokers who throw their butts out the window while running a red-light, and that they are seriously considering DNA check of the butts in the homeland security data base of no flyers and suspected terrorists.

    Perhaps in Arizona the police can track down the offenders and ascertain their legality.

    Is it true that new State of Florida Employment applications ask for an affidavit that you have never run a red-light?

  5. They had those here in Charlotte for a while and they ended up having to remove them because the statute did not provide for the company that installed them to get their cut.

    They worked though!

  6. > statute did not provide for the company that
    > installed them to get their cut

    I’m surprised the company even installed them, if they got no cut!

  7. Cuban Sandwich shop. LOL ………………………uh yes.

    I Lived and worked near there for 15 years. That Cuban became our house sandwich of choice. Had them for my daughters HS graduation. Take them to tailgates in Tally. And to the beach in Pass a grille when having a family reunion.

    It was voted the best Cuban in Tampa by Steve Otto (Tampa Trib) in the 70’s and you couldn’t get near the place for a week. It tastes exactly the same today as it always has.

    You did well.

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