Florida Red Light Camera Laws Remain Topic of Debate

In just a few weeks, the city of Boca Raton will begin enforcing red light violations with the use of cameras, joining 77 other county and city governments across Florida that operate red light camera programs. trafficlight5

Installed at six intersections – three on Glades Road, one on Federal Highway, one on Military Trail and one on Congress Avenue – the cameras will snap photos of red-light runners, who will receive a $158 fine.

However, our Boca Raton car accident lawyers recognize that these devices have not come without controversy, and state lawmakers are looking to potentially eliminate them altogether.

Those who are against these devices say their primary purpose is a revenue-generator for local government, and that they may actually compromise public safety. There is evidence to support their claims.

To start, an analysis of statewide data released last month indicates that the program generated $115 million last year for state and local governments. That’s a powerful motivator to keep programs going -particularly for those districts that are cash-strapped.

Beyond that, there have been numerous studies that indicate while overall traffic deaths may have been reduced since the implementation of these devices, the number of crashes and serious injuries is actually up.

In 2005, the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University conducted a study for the U.S. Department of Transportation that analyzed red light cameras at more than 300 cameras over a seven-month period. They found that rather than reduce crashes, red light cameras were associated with not only a higher number of crashes but an increased severity in several categories.

That same year, the Federal Highway Administration revealed its own research that showed rear-end collisions at these intersections had jumped by about 15 percent. However, right angle crashes (which tend to be more severe) dropped by 25 percent.

In 2007, the Virginia Research Council on the same issue found that while red light running declined about 8 percent, rear-end crashes increased by about 27 percent.

And just in 2012, the New Jersey Department of Transportation found that at its red light camera intersections, crash-related costs had gone up by about $1.2 million.

This year in Florida, a legislative report indicated 1,200 more crashes at red-light camera intersections in the state, although there were 18 fewer fatal accidents.

Certainly, red-light running is a major problem, and needs to be addressed. But is this the best way? House Rep. Frank Artiles says he is not at this juncture attempting to repeal the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act, the red light camera law that went into effect in 2010. However, he is trying to put a number of restrictions on the program.

His proposal would mandate that 70 percent of the revenue generated from these cameras would go toward traffic safety initiatives, rather than general government coffers.

Other restrictions have since been written out of the bill, including a provision that would have banned the implementation of future red light cameras and a line that would have halved the maximum red light ticket fee from $158 to $79.

Meanwhile, a version of the bill in the state Senate does call for a full repeal of the law.

Both actions are still pending.

Contact the Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.