State Senator Rene Garcia is our new hero. The Hialeah Republican has introduced a bill in the state legislature that would effectively ban the use of red light cameras and has called them a "big-brother initiative." It's probably one of the few times when a Republican from Hialeah and the ACLU can actually agree on something.
"It is an unwarranted, big-brother initiative," said Garcia in a release. "We need to ensure that citizens are treated fairly, and this bill will protect Floridians from intrusive snapshots and inaccurate ticketing. Local governments have used these cameras to tax their citizens under the disguise of safety."
The rise of red light cameras in Florida comes as many local governments find themselves strapped for cash, and the tickets collected from some of these cameras can bring in millions of dollars a year.
Garcia cites a study by the National Motorist Associated that he says proves "red light cameras do not create a significant improvement to traffic flow or reduction to the number of accidents." However, a study released last week by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety claims that they reduce the "rate of fatal red light running crashes by 24 percent."
The NMA has maintained that lengthening yellow lights would actually lead to greater crash reductions while also resulting in fewer tickets.
Other studies have found that the cameras lead to a rise in rear-end crashes.
The cameras have raised the ire of people across the political compass from Libertarian-minded Republicans like Garcia to liberal groups like the ACLU.
The City of Miami began operating red light cameras at the beginning of this year, while other cities like Miami Beach, Aventura, Hollywood and Pembroke Pines also use red light cameras.
If Garcia's bill were to pass, all red light cameras in Florida would be banned by July 2011.
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