Study Raises Questions About Red-Light Cameras

, Daily Business Review

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A measure to repeal the state's red-light traffic camera law will be pushed forward by lawmakers using a study from the Legislature's nonpartisan policy office to support the effort.

The report from the Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability found there were fewer fatalities but more crashes at electronically monitored intersections, and that fines issued due to the technology cost motorists nearly $119 million last year.

The Florida League of Cities quickly contested the fairness of the study.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, said Monday that the study backs his contention that the state's primary red-light camera law, the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act of 2010, hasn't reduced safety, and that municipal and county governments are using the program to fuel their budgets.

"I think we should go all in for full repeal," Brandes said during a press conference at the Capitol to highlight the study. "I think this data clearly shows that this program is not working as the Legislature intended, that we're not seeing a reduction in accidents, (and) that we're seeing a clear, dramatic increase in revenues that are being generated from this."

Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, who has filed a measure (HB 4009) to repeal the 2010 law, said if legislators are unwilling to support repeal, state lawmakers should enact the series of recommendations included in the legislative study.

"I still firmly believe that this program should be repealed, but if we cannot repeal it I'm willing to modify it significantly," Artiles said.

The study recommends that local governments demonstrate a safety need at each intersection where cameras may be installed, that local communities should be required to follow standards on the length of yellow lights, and that revenue local governments generate from the cameras be restricted to public and traffic safety uses.

Artiles also proposes that the amount local governments can fine be reduced from $158 to $83.

The Florida League of Cities, in a release from its lobbyist Casey Cook, maintained that the cameras do improve safety and called the study "biased and inconsistent."

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