Dead again: Red light camera ban fizzles in Senate
A red light camera is seen on a pole along Franklin Corner Road in Lawrence Township, Wednesday, July, 25, 2012. New Jersey is again giving the green light to red-light cameras. Gov. Chris Christie says all of the cameras have been certified.(AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Red Light Cameras
A delay all but ensures the measure is kaput for 2019.

Sen. Jeff Brandes’ bill that would get rid of red light cameras in the state was temporarily postponed in the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee on Tuesday.

The delay all but ensures the measure is dead — again — after several years’ worth of attempts to kill the program.

Brandes voluntarily postponed the bill in the final minutes of the committee meeting because of time constraints but not before calling red light cameras “tools of the devil to tax poor people.”

This year’s bill (SB 622) would overturn the “Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Program” law that was approved in 2010. It gives localities across the state the option to use red light cameras within their boundaries.

The city of St. Petersburg canceled its program in 2014 after massive public outcry, mostly stemming from motorists who were ticketed for turning right on red.

Conversely, Tampa voted last week to extend its contract with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) for another five years to continue its program, which has red light cameras at more than 50 intersections throughout the city.

ATS retains a horde of lobbyists to bat down repeated attempts to squash red light cameras, including from the powerhouse firm Ballard Partners. The Arizona-based company is the largest provider of red light cameras in the state and nation.

Brandes sponsored a similar bill last year that died in its first committee. A similar bill in the House is also now stalled.

Even with the seemingly impossible task of gaining traction in the Senate, time is running out for this year’s efforts. The Infrastructure and Security Committee is the bill’s first committee stop.

That committee isn’t scheduled to meet again this week or next. The last day for regularly scheduled committee meetings is April 23.

Red light cameras have long been a political football for politicians.

Critics argue they actually cause more crashes as rear-end collisions go up as a result of motorists either hitting the brakes to avoid running a light or speed up to make it.

Supporters say it’s a safety measure that saves lives by reducing crashes resulting from red-light runners.

The issue has been a top priority in the Tampa mayoral race. Candidate David Straz opposes the program and says he would cancel it. His opponent, former Police Chief Jane Castor, supports the cameras.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]


3 comments

  • James C. Walker

    April 12, 2019 at 8:18 am

    Once again a handful of Florida Senators who are “in the pockets” of the for-profit red light camera companies and their local & state for-profit governmental business partners. This thwarts the overwhelming percentage of their constituents who want the for-profit rackets of red light cameras banned by law statewide.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • Pat Lamey

    April 13, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    Several studies have been published that show red light cameras don’t make enough money to justify being installed until and unless the camera company can set the yellow to be unreasonable short. In other words, red light cameras are revenue generation mechanisms and have little to do with safety. I’ve attached a link illustrating the number of studies showing a far safer technique and one that does not involve revenue generation is to simply extend the duration of the yellow a bit longer.
    https://www.motorists.org/issues/red-light-cameras/yellow-lights/

  • Pat Lamey

    April 13, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    A particularly interesting experience with red light cameras. Longer yellows caused the red light cameras to do absolutely nothing and were removed.
    http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/31/3110.asp

Comments are closed.


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