Reader Mail: Florida Needs to Ban Red-Light Cameras

Red-Light Rebel

Outrageous abuse: Good for Bob Sherin, the "non-lawyer" exposing the "racketeering" of red-light cameras ("Seeing Red," Michael E. Miller, July 26). If this becomes a class-action lawsuit, I would love to add my two cents. It is a completely unfair and unreliable system to ticket people through a camera.


Privacy broken: Photo enforcement has never stopped unsafe driving. It has been proven that these systems are dangerous and actually increase accidents in areas where they are deployed. How can blinding and distracting drivers with a searing camera flash improve anyone's "safety"? Instead of increasing the yellow-light timing cycles at intersections, cities can mount cameras and profit from you instead. Your personal information is being recorded 24/7 and stored by private companies whether an infraction has occurred or not.


All about the money: Are there really any people in Florida who still think red-light camera cash registers are about safety and not about money? Cities in Florida don't give a crap about safety as long as thousands or millions of dollars keep rolling in. The state loves the programs because it gets to rip off 52.5 percent of the money-grab revenue, with no responsibility to pay any part of the costs of the cameras.

The only real solution is a statewide ban on cameras, but bills to do this in Florida have failed twice due to heavy lobbying by the camera companies and the cities that want the revenue. A bill to mandate longer yellows failed for the same reason.

We should go after the Florida Department of Transportation for its deliberate, and possibly dangerous, change to the rules issued on yellow-light timing in July 2011. Before then, yellows were to be timed for the posted speed limit or the 85th percentile speed of approaching traffic, whichever is greater. In July 2011, the "whichever is greater" was removed — thus allowing, or even encouraging, cities to time yellows for the posted limits. This makes the yellows up to about one second too short. This deliberate change by the DOT has drastically increased the use and profitability of red-light cameras.

If the yellows were timed for maximum safety and minimum violations and cities did not illegally ticket safe, slow-rolling right turns on red lights, the entire fraud of the red-light camera industry would collapse. Only by ticketing mostly safe drivers can the red-light camera industry survive in Florida, or anywhere else.

Citizens need to repeatedly contact their state and local officials to demand an end to the predatory red-light camera programs and vote out all the camera supporters. Replace these officials with those who favor safety ahead of camera revenue. We need to attack the fraud on all fronts until these cameras are banned forever.

James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

Fraud central: How much fraud can courts be allowed to commit? We need to take apart the corrupt legal system, down to its smallest nuts and bolts. What police department or judge can answer these questions without giving up the entire scam of the legal system? If we can expose their crimes, we'll no longer be victims.


Pro Sports Power

Criminal behavior: The fact that the Marlins' and the Dolphins' owners are contributing tens of thousands of dollars to the politicians who give them sweetheart stadium deals is complete BS ("PAC Attack," Francisco Alvarado, July 26). The Marlins lie about their finances, claim they can't pay for a stadium, but then give thousands to politicians. How is that not a crime? The ax needs to fall on these local politicians too. Where is the Punisher when you need him?


Stop giving out cash: In joint ventures with big private enterprises, taxpayers always get screwed. Just look at the Miami Heat, the Miami Marlins, Jungle Island, the new Miami Art Museum, the tunnel to nowhere, the Adrienne Arsht Center, and on and on.


Martinez for Mayor

Six of one, half a dozen of the other: What the hell does it matter that Uncle Luke thinks we should vote for Joe Martinez ("Luke's Gospel: Forget Carlos Gimenez and Audrey Edmonson," Luther Campbell, July 26)? It's Cuban-American Republican Number One vs. Cuban-American Republican Number Two. Miami's mayoral races are like Boston in the '70 and '80s with the Kennedys: There's no other choice.


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drakemallard topcommenter


According to a study released in February 2011 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), red light cameras saved 159 lives in 14 cities between 2004 and 2008 by bringing down fatal accident rates at intersections. Red light cameras monitor intersections and report red light infractions electronically, triggering a citation to the offending driver in the form of a letter from the municipality.

The IIHS study compared drops in fatal accident rates in almost 100 cities, including the 14 cities with cameras, against fatal accident rates for the same cities in the 1990s. Rates went down for all cities, partially because of better vehicle design. However, in cities using red light cameras, fatal crashes fell by 35 percent. For cities without cameras, the rate fell by just 10 percent to 14 percent.

A separate question-and-answer resource from the IIHS elaborates on why the cameras are used and why they are necessary. The IIHS identifies most red light runners as younger drivers who don’t wear seat belts and who have previous traffic citations -- in other words, someone who will run a red light once likely will do it again.

There are alternatives to the cameras, like roundabouts and longer yellow-light times. But the IIHS contends that roundabouts are not a universal solution according to traffic engineers, and longer yellow-light times are largely ineffective. Also, the IIHS points out the dangers involved in police officers enforcing red light infractions: They often have drive through red lights to catch offenders.

Not everyone is on board with the use of red light cameras. Just as with other video surveillance technology, these electronic traffic cops have brought their fair share of criticism. The National Motorists Association opposes the cameras and claims that they can't positively identify the driver, decrease efficiency at intersections and depend on the mail (an unreliable method) for the delivery of citations. A 2008 Florida Public Health Review article claims that red light cameras encourage abrupt (and possibly unsafe) stopping, which actually could cause more accidents.

Critics also contend that red light cameras may exist primarily to bring in money for municipalities. In addition to saving on police costs, the cities get all of that extra revenue from fines. Insurance companies might be profiting, too, according to the Florida Public Health Review article. Cameras might lead to higher auto insurance premiums for drivers who end up with marks on their driving record, or who get in rear-end crashes because a driver stops suddenly at a yellow light to avoid a ticket.

drakemallard topcommenter

Every year, millions of taxpayer dollars are poured into stadiums, 
hockey rinks, baseball parks, and other arenas in order to attract and retain 
professional sports teams in big cities.  Often the money is spent by 
the cities after a team "threatens" to leave the city.When that happens, of course, the local news media act as the willing
accomplices of the billionaires who own the teams.When city and state governments build facilities for sports organizations which are owned by billionaires, and raise taxes as a result, it is clearly an abuse of power. the infrastructure Is falling apart and the schools are in decline with overcrowding and not enough quality teachers.  firemen,  policemen.


Cameras don't stop the bad crashes. A 2004 study sponsored by the TX DOT reported: "With one exception, all of the right-angle crashes [they found and reviewed 40 crashes that had been photographed by red light cameras] occurred after 5 seconds or more of red." (Link at thenewspaper daht com/news/02/243.asp )

A real late runner (5+ secs. late) doesn't do it on purpose. He doesn't know (the majority of red light camera violations are by lost or distracted visitors - the mayor of Hallandale FL just revealed that 78% of the tickets there go to visitors) or doesn't remember (a distracted or impaired "local") that a camera is up ahead, so the presence of a camera won't stop him. To cut these real late runs and the crashes they cause, identify your most dangerous intersections and improve the following visual cues that say, "signal ahead."

Florida's DOT found that painting "signal ahead" on the road cut running by up to 74%. Also make these other inexpensive mods: Make the signal lights bigger in dia., add backboards to them, make the street lights brighter, and put up a lighted name sign for the cross street. And if you can afford it, add a signal pole on the NEAR side of the corner.

Cameras have many side effects: They (indirectly) block emergency vehicles - cars stopped at a camera hesitate to get out of the way! Rearenders, local $$$ sent to Oz, AZ or Goldman-Sachs, where it won't come back, and tourists and shoppers driven away.

Want safety, no side effects? Install the visual cues. To cut car/pedestrian accidents, train your kids (and yourself) not to step out just 'cuz the walk sign came on.

Who needs cameras?

Who needs their side effects?

Who needs the gullible and/or greedy politicians who OK them?

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