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Protesters Hope to Remove Red Light Cameras

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          – Cameras said to be unsafe, unfair.

       All across the state of Florida, protesters took their complaints to the streets this weekend. In cities such as Tampa, Orlando, Lakeland, Palm Beach, Miami, and even Tallahassee people carried signs and demanded change. What was all the noise and commotion about? The answer: Red Light Cameras. Perhaps not the answer one would expect. However suddenly these small devices are creating quite the controversy. The Florida Civil Rights Association, National Motorists Association, and banthecams.org all teamed up to organize rallies this past weekend in an effort to repeal a law that allows police to ticket those caught on camera running a red light.     

Red Light Camera on Corner of Alafaya and University Dr.

             State legislation was passed last year which authorized the use of red light cameras to deter people from speeding through red lights and intersections. This upcoming Monday in Central Florida will be the first day that people caught on camera will be fined for their actions. This isn’t sitting well with many protesters who say the cameras are unsafe, unconstitutional, and actually do more harm than good.  Critics argue the cameras force many drivers to stop abruptly for fear of being photographed and this is causing an increase in rear-end collisions.  Others have successfully appealed red light camera violations by arguing the cameras are unreliable and don’t clearly show a car’s license plate.

       Senate Bill 672 has been introduced into the Florida Legislature by a Republican from Hialeah named Rene Garcia. Representative Garcia hopes the bill removes red light cameras from Florida intersections. President of the Florida Civil Rights Association J. Willie David III says “the red light camera law should never have seen the light of day.” He explains that many local governments are using red light cameras to their advantage by unfairly taxing citizens while using the excuse of public safety to do so.

          That argument may in fact be legitimate. As early as 2001 the National Motorists Association posted on their website concerning red light camera revenues. The group states Lockheed Martin, one of the largest manufacturers of red light cameras in the country, has clauses in its contracts that prohibit intersections where its cameras are installed to increase yellow light times. Increasing yellow light times has been proven to dramatically reduce traffic accidents.

Central Florida drivers will soon face tickets from red light cameras

The question remains are red light cameras keeping people safer on the roads? The Insurance Institute for Highway safety says yes. Their recent study looks at the time period between 2004 and 2008. During that time the study looked at 14 different American cities. Their conclusion was that red light cameras saved 159 lives during that time and reduced fatal crashes from running red lights by 24 percent.

           For now the debate between traffic safety and camera revenue will continue. While legislation is in play to remove red light cameras, removing them from local intersections will take some time. Starting Monday drivers will have to fight tickets after red light cameras snap them running through intersections. Who knows what will eventually become of those violations?

– Arthur Volpe

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Written by ArthurVolpe

March 2, 2011 at 2:40 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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