The ongoing red-light debate questions whether city and county government should be allowed to operate cameras to capture red-light runners in the act. As a Gainesville accident attorney, I can say that there are persuasive arguments on both sides. Here is an attempt to simplify a complex debate:
Proponents of red-light cameras argue to the tune of:
1. Proven Public Safety. A study shows that red-light cameras reduce not only fatal red-light running collisions, but also other types of fatal intersection crashes. The study finds these cameras saved approximately 59 lives from 2004 to 2008 in 14 major cities. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, February 2011)
2. Deterrence. The possibility of receiving a $158 fine deters potential red-light runners on the basis of punishment. Therefore, less red-light runners mean less resulting traffic injuries and deaths.
3. Government Revenue. Red-light runners are not only punished for dangerous and potentially fatal behavior, local and state government raise funds in a time of decreasing government budgets and critical shortfalls. At $158 a fine, Florida counties already using red-light camera technology raised approximately $8.5 million for the state and $7.6 million, collectively, for city and county governments in an 8-month period, beginning July 2010. However, the main objective is public safety.
4. Lower Cost to Society. As a benefit of increased public safety, fewer car accidents mean lower cost of medical care, loss of earning ability, as well as other costs associated with traffic accidents and fatalities.
Arguments against red-light cameras go something like this:
1. Big Brother is Watching. Red-light cameras are overly invasive and allow City and County governments to photograph a vehicle and the private persons inside. Everyone from the Republican party to the ACLU have argued these cameras are too intrusive.
2. Cha-ching. That’s the sound of Florida making money-approximately $16.1 million from July 2010 to February this year from red-light cameras already in operation statewide. Opponents argue the cameras mainly serve as a revenue-raising opportunity for government to fine motorists rather than focus on public safety. The set fine is $158 per ticket-of which $78 goes to local government and $83 is sent to the Department of Revenue.
3. Misdirected Fine. A red-light camera captures a photo of a red-light runner’s plate and sends a bill to the car’s registered owner. Opponents argue that someone other than the registered owner may have been driving at the time the car ran the red light. Therefore, the car’s owner must foot the misdirected fine.
4. Increased Rear-end Collisions and Mortality. A USF study found that while some side-impact collision may decrease at intersections, rear-end accidents might increase due to red-light camera “gawkers” and would-be runners slamming on the brakes. Plus, Florida’s elderly drivers, who may have slower reflexes, may be at greater risk of mortality, from increased red-light collisions due to cameras. (USF, 2008)
5. Rising Insurance Rates. Some insurance companies calculate rates based on the number of traffic citations issued in a specific locale. Red-light cameras may increase the number of tickets issued, raising Gainesville’s insurance rates. Plus, increased accidents may mean higher premiums.
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I am local accident attorney Jeffrey Meldon and I strongly believe that public education is the first step in the prevention of and/or recovery from a serious accident. My office and I take pride in our work, and the results we get for our clients.
Meldon Law is a regional law firm that is located in Gainesville, Florida. We are personal injury lawyers, litigators and trial lawyers that have been working to get accident victims the justice they deserve for over 40 years throughout North Florida and all over Florida. Accidents involving a car crash, truck wreck, motorcycle, ATVs, bicycle, pedestrian accidents, and dog bites, slip and falls, medical malpractice, and criminal defense are all included in our practice.
For more information on how we can help you, or with any other question you may have, feel free to contact our office at 800-373-8000.