Students debate red-light cameras

Photo by Chris Phan courtesy of Creative Commons.

Kieron Williams/Staff Writer

More than 1 million citations were issued for red-light camera violations statewide last year — more than 15 times the number of tickets issued by law enforcement.

Whether or not this is a good thing, however, is debated.

The Florida State Senate held a committee hearing to discuss some heavily controversial bills on the cameras on March 27 where Senate Transportation Chairman Jeff Brandes, who previously opposed red-light cameras altogether, simply proposed some modifications to the current law.

Suggestions included: allowing motorists to employ a “rolling stop” at speeds up to 15 mph when taking a right-on-red turn when no pedestrians were in the crosswalk, and that owners of vehicles caught on camera going through traffic signals 0.5 seconds after the colors changed from yellow to red can only be issued a warning.

Every amendment proposed by the chairman was either rejected or postponed.

“Changes like that just make common sense,” said Vinesh Kanusing, senior marketing major. “When motorcycles have to stop and start, it ruins their engine. Anybody who knows about motorcycles would know that, and you’d think that the Transportation Committee would pass something like that earlier.”

Other students oppose red-light cameras altogether, like Sofia Schlossman, a senior biomedical engineering student.

“A human should be making those decisions, since every situation is different,” she said. “I’d rather a police officer tell me what I had done right then and there so that I can know not to do it again.”

But the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles found in a January 2013 analysis that a total of 44 percent of community police departments saw a reduction in side-impact crashes, 41 percent experienced a reduction in rear-end crashes and 56 percent reported a total reduction in crashes at red-light camera intersections.

[pullquote]“I’d rather a police officer tell me what I had done right then and there so that I can know not to do it again.”  Sofia Schlossman, a senior biomedical engineering student.[/pullquote]

Thus, state groups such as the Florida League of Cities oppose the chairman’s proposals.

“Florida’s red light safety camera program is a proven law-enforcement tool that reduces dangerous T-bone crashes and changes the behaviors of those drivers who choose to run red lights,” the league states on its website.

A Foster Folly News analysis cited, “Although most jurisdictions reported a decrease in crashes at intersections with red light cameras, the crash data maintained by the Department indicates that crashes at traffic control signal intersections typically increased, both statewide and in the surveyed jurisdictions.”

Meanwhile, Schlossman wants to see a change at least near FIU’s Engineering Center.

“There’s a red-light camera right on 107th and Flagler, and it goes off every time someone makes a right turn at a red light,” she said. “Even though the turn is totally legal, I always have to wait so much longer because the people at the front of the line to make that right turn are scared stiff by the camera. It’s annoying, and it happens every day. Either remove it, or do something about it.”

The Department of Parking and Transportation was unavailable for comment. –news@fiusm.com

About the Author

Kieron Williams
: I'm a Communications Arts major, and once I graduate I hope to use my degree and writing skills to become a screenwriter and novelist. I'm in my junior year at FIU, hoping to graduate by 2016, and I'm also Vice President of the FIU Film Initiative. I write for the News section, Life, and Opinion.

4 Comments on "Students debate red-light cameras"

  1. There is only one organization in Florida that is fighting the red light camera scheme in the legislature. As their lobbyist against the scheme, although I was not mentioned in the story I spoke at the hearing mentioned above and have done so since 2011. If fighting against turning law enforcement into a for-profit scheme is important to you, please make a donation to the Liberty First Network

  2. Kathleen Richardson | April 9, 2014 at 5:33 PM | Reply

    This a letter I sent to the Bradenton Herald. It has caused the Manatee County sheriff to have one of his minions call me and try to convince me I am wrong about this.

    Maybe one of the reasons drivers in Manatee County are confused about whether or not they can do a “rolling” right turn on a red (that’s when you turn without coming to a full stop) is because the statute says it’s OK.

    In clear English, Florida Statute 316.0083 (1) (a) says, “A notice of violation and a traffic citation may not be issued for failure to stop at a red light if the driver is making a right-hand turn in a careful and prudent manner at an intersection where right-hand turns are permissible.”

    However, in MyManatee.org, the county’s official website, the question, “Will I receive a notice of violation if I do not come to a complete stop when I’m making a right turn at an intersection monitored by a red light safety camera?”

    The county’s answer is “Yes,” and it refers the reader to Florida Statute 316.0083 (1) (a), which, as I wrote in the second paragraph above, says it is OK to make a rolling right turn.

    In pursuing this obvious contradiction, I called Manatee County for an explanation and was told someone would respond. The email I received was an actual copy of Florida Statute 316.0083 (1) (a) highlighted in bright yellow.

    When I questioned that, the originator of the email told me that the statute was no longer in effect, that it had been changed to say you may not make a rolling right turn on red; that you have to come to a complete stop first.

    So, I called the Division of Law Revision and Information in Tallahassee. They are the people who publish official statutes. The person in charge told me the statute has not been changed, and that it sounded to him as if Manatee County has a “scam” going.

    Kathleen Richardson

    Bradenton

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  3. The 2013 FL report in January IS A SURVEY OF WHATEVER THE RLC TOWNS WANTED TO REPORT!

    http://banthecams.org/index.php/articles/read-light-camera/5059-rlc-qreportq-by-fl-no-rlv-crashes-in-qreportq-ats-had-early-access-too-many-more-flaws-too

    Quote: Executive Summary
    As with the state report last year, there are a number of serious concerns with the 2013 version or identified by it.
    1.The report lacks a proper title based upon it’s lack of information. It should be titled a report of a voluntary undocumented survey. Similar reports in other states are in-depth and lengthy, and offer accountability via independent verification of claims.
    2.The report was published December 17, 2013 and revised January 8, 2014 and not made available to the public until January 10. In between December 17 and January 10, camera vendor ATS published a media release on January 3 that indicated they had a copy of the report. This gives the perception that a camera vendor that reaps millions of dollars from the camera scheme had input in the revision.
    3.The camera vendor is not authorized in the law to receive a copy of the report. Only certain state officials and the public (via the public records law) are authorized.
    4.The report’s required data is excessively vague, and there exists no documentation to independently verify any of the claims made by local entities. The DHSMV has excessive discretion on required data.
    5.The data was collected via an online survey, which yields no accountability or documentation upon individual participants, as they could make up and submit any numbers they pleased. This point alone is enough to invalidate the entire report.
    6.Once again, red light violation (RLV) crashes are not considered in any analysis, while “side-impact” crashes that are usually caused by failure to yield are considered. All Florida crash reports are coded for cause, so it is simple to include the proper data.
    7.The report includes a new item entitled “Camera footage used to investigate other crimes.” There is no statutory authorization for this in the report, and the inclusion of it appears to be solely to bolster public opinion of the camera scheme.
    8.There were 4 local entities that willfully refused to participate in any data reporting. The report does not indicate if any legal action was taken against them for violating Florida law.
    9.For the 75 local entities that did respond, none are identified and no data is attributable to them individually.
    10.Inconsistent time frames were used for Notice of Violation (NOV) ticket and Uniform Traffic Citation (UTC) ticket data that was related to the NOV tickets. This made any comparison between the two impossible.
    11.Using the supplied NOV ticket numbers and cross-referencing them to the Dept. of Revenue report for the identical time frame, there exists a $26 million discrepancy. A $30 million discrepancy was identified after last year’s analysis.
    12.The report indicates 25 percent of local entities failed to provide any crash data (the actual number is far higher as determined later in the report). This is a significant amount of missing data and would skew any results. This point alone is enough to invalidate the entire report.
    13.The report documents local entities all use traffic volume for locating cameras, and only 61 percent use crash data as a primary factor. This is counter-productive for safety, yet productive for revenue.
    14.Local entities that failed to submit specific crash data increased from last year, where the range was 19 to 30 percent. This year it is 25 to 41 percent. These numbers when averaged are higher than the 25 percent reported earlier in the report.
    15.The report documents what it calls “self-reported trends” that allow free-reign reporting of any number by local entities.
    16.The report failed to account for different crash reporting procedures that affected 2012 crash data, even though this factor was known to the DHSMV prior to the earlier release of their 2012 “Traffic Crash Facts” publication.
    17.Improvements to intersections such as lighting and engineering are wrongly attributed to the camera scheme. These type of improvements are a normal function of local entities and have taken place for years prior to the camera scheme
    18.Unqualified personnel are still issuing both NOV and UTC tickets.
    19.Right on red enforcement remains inconsistent throughout the state.
    20.Use of the camera scheme for criminal investigations is not specified in s. 316.0083, which limits their use to violations of s. 316.075, the red light law.

    Read more on the RLC Fraud:

    http://www.motorists.org
    http://www.banthecams.org
    camerafraud on Facebook

  4. Also note the FL OPPAGA report listed RAW Data:

    : http://www.thenewspaper.com/rlc/docs/2014/fl-oppaga.pdf

    OVERALL CRASHES WENT UP 1,186

    ANGLE CRASHES WENT UP 349 (the kind the RLC indusrty claims that RLC “reduced” SURE DIDN’T in that report!)

    Quote: “However, angle crashes (the crashes most commonly associated with red light running) increased by 22% at red light camera intersections.”

    Only the the deaths went down by 18, BUT KNOW one knows if those deaths were RLR. (A RLC can only “stop” a RLR, it will not “stop” other crashes.

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