Civil Rights Group: Scott, Lawmakers Must Repeal Florida Red Light Camera Law

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News Release: Florida Civil Rights Association

Updated: February 20, 2014, 5:30pm

ORLANDO, FLA – The Florida Civil Rights Association is urging Governor Rick Scott to call on State Lawmakers to repeal the Florida Red Camera Law after a recent report by the Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability revealed the cameras are not reducing accidents, but more generating revenue.

It’s troubling that red light camera were designed to pad local governments’ budgets, camera companies’ pockets, and state lawmakers reelection campaigns all in the name of public safety, said J. Willie David, III, organization’s president.

Florida motorists cannot afford a $158 ticket for nothing more than a technical foul such as turning right on red or their vehicle front tires crossing the solid white line into the intersection in most cases, David said. A large percentage of red-light tickets issued are not for a dangerous situation, such as running the red light, David stated.

State and local governments are duty bound to be proactive to save lives on our roadways and intersections. They must remove these roadside ATM machines disguised as public safety devices, said David. State lawmakers should be ashamed of promoting a cash cow scam to fleece motorists out of their hard earned money for financial gain for their reelection campaign, stated David. It is no wonder that reasonable people cannot prevail against a legislature driven by campaign contributions from the camera companies, David said.

The Office of Program Policy and Analysis and Government Accountability report clearly states that red light cameras do not live up to their billing. The number of these devices on Florida roadways is exploding while the number of collisions at red light camera intersections is increasing, said Henry Stowe, the organization's Transportation Chairman. The fact that cities and towns are using traffic crash data only 61% of the time as the main factor in determining where to place a camera is "engineering malpractice," according to Stowe, if in fact, they reduce crashes. The report states that overall crashes have increased at red light camera intersections while actual injuries have not fallen in a statistically significant way. It is time for the state to rip these constitution shredding devices off the lampposts, said Stowe. The revenue take on motorists has more than tripled since 2010 while overall safety has not statistically improved. The fact that a government agency is urging the legislature to modify the program is significant, however, not enough. "These devices need to come down for good," said Stowe.

Florida Red Light Camera Law has nothing to do with public safety, David expressed. It’s clearly about profit and Governor Rick Scott should use his office to urge state lawmakers to ban red light camera enforcement in Florida.

The Florida Civil Rights Association supports Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, House Speaker Will Weatherford, Senator Jeff Brandes, Chairman of Senate Transportation committee, and Representative Frank Artiles push to repeal the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act of 2010 signed into law by former Governor Charlie Crist.

It’s time for Governor Scott to put Florida motorists on notice that he supports repealing former Governor Charlie Crist’s red light camera law that put profits above public safety, David stated.

Cities and counties can save lives at intersections by increasing yellow-light times as required by Florida Department of Transportation to bring down traffic violations and reduce intersection collisions, stated David.

News Release: Sachs Media

“Red light cameras are helping to save lives in our communities. This is a fact that Florida’s cities have known for years.

“OPPAGA’s report acknowledges that crashes are down 19 percent and fatalities are down 49 percent at intersections with red-light safety cameras. While we have many objections with OPPAGA's findings and recommendations, if the question of whether or not this program is successful hinges on the number of lives saved, then the answer is a resounding yes.

“From Jacksonville to Miami and Orlando to Tampa and St. Petersburg, cities throughout the state are using red-light safety cameras to enhance road safety. We are concerned that the study has a biased and inconsistent analysis of the programs operating in more than 70 Florida cities.

“The report’s conclusion is not surprising given that it was requested by a legislator who sponsored a bill to repeal Florida’s red-light safety camera law. By OPPAGA's own admission, much of its crash data is flawed. It’s also curious how this report issued by the state legislature criticizes local revenue but makes no mention of eliminating the state portion of the fine.”

By Eyewitness News

February 10, 2014, 5pm

74 cities and five counties operate red light cameras in Florida, and a new study by a state government watch dog is giving cameras a mixed review.

Red light camera revenue is up from $37 million from two years ago to a whopping $118 million last year.

Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) wants to repeal the 2010 law that allows red light cameras.

"We've tolerated this back door tax increase for too long. It is time we bring some common sense to the traffic policies of the state of Florida," said Sen. Brandes.

A study by the legislature's Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) found fatal crashes down by 49% at red light camera intersections, but the number of rear end crashes is up.

This report also found that revenue from red light intersections like this one goes to general revenue, not traffic safety.

The Florida League of Cities says the numbers prove the cameras are saving lives.

"Fewer people are running red lights, and the fact of the matter is 49% fewer people died this year as a result of red light running," said Casey Cook, Florida League of Cities.

But opponents argue the data is sketchy. They appear poised to recommend big changes if they can't engineer a full repeal.

"We should require that traffic studies be done for each and every intersection with a red light camera. Second, we need to require that traffic safety counter measures be implemented before installing red light cameras," said Sen. Brandes.

A legislative committee will hear from the authors of this report later this week.

The cameras cost cities and counties between $4200 - $4700 a month for each camera. 15 cities generated more than a million dollars in revenue from the cameras last year.

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