Red Light Cameras at Risk in Florida

A bill to eliminate red light cameras in Florida gets out of committee in its Senate. Details from Tallahassee.com:

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, would repeal a law allowing the cameras and remove them from state roads by July. Garcia said the cameras, while improving safety at intersections, amount to an assault on privacy.

"I think what we have before us in the state of Florida is the beginning of Big Brother starting to watch us everywhere," he said.....

The cameras, which are going up in a growing number of Florida communities, would raise $158 million next fiscal year, including $70.1 million for the state and $71.7 million for local governments, according to the most recent estimates. Violations cost drivers $158.

The Florida Libertarian Party claims credit for the anti-cameras bill's progress.

Radley Balko from last December on how red light cameras may not work at making roads safer, but at least work at making cities bucks; Matt Welch from 2009 on how the cameras seem to increase rear-end crashes in Los Angeles; Balko from 2008 on how a study in Florida's own Florida Public Health Review pokes holes in the "science" that claims the cameras are good for traffic safety.

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  • ||

    Deja Vu

  • ||

    SQUIRRELS!!!!

  • ||

    Just hope this measure passes. Nice to see stuff like this.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    And they both point to the same comments, too...

  • Bee Tagger||

    Someone should tell Brian Doherty that Brian Doherty is already all over this story.

    http://reason.com/blog/2011/03.....-risk-in-f

  • ||

    but but what about...the chuld rens?

  • Restoras||

    Like the rest of us, they should stop at red lights.

  • Pip||

    Good question. So when are you going to stop sodomizing them?

  • Brian Doherty||

    the other one should be gone if you refresh. If you wish to enjoy this error forever, NEVER refresh the page again.

  • ||

    This is going in the wiki so that future generations may know your perfidy.

  • ||

    after one ticket, i took my front plate off 2 yrs ago. 25 v $100 fine.

  • ||

    This is a proposal I support. I also supported Gov. Scott's decision to kill high speed rail.

    By the way, has Reason reported on all the new drug testing measures that the newly elected officials in this state are supporting? The newest one tests state employees every year, and by some estimates could cost taxpayers $3.5 million a year. While the newly elected officials in Florida may be more libertarian on some issues, they strike me as more authoritarian on others.

  • Otto||

    I also supported Gov. Scott's decision to kill high speed rail.

    His decision to kill the drug "database" took real guts. I will have to remember those two things when he inevitably disappoints me...

  • ||

    I agree, that did take guts.

    I thought a democratic legislator had proposed a bill legalizing medical marijuan. We'll have to see how the Republicans and Scott handle that issue.

  • ||

    It shouldn't cost the taxpayers anything.

    Make the employees & officials pay for it themselves.

  • ||

    I agree, it shouldn't cost the taxpayers anything. From what I understand, the drug testing for welfare recipients requires the recipient to pay for the test before receiving a check, so I don't take issue as much with that program. (Although there is some crony capitalism concern about a company that Scott's wife owns profiting from all these drug screenings. As much as I support free market capitalism, I detest crony capitalism).

    However, my understanding is that the state will pay for the drug tests of these state employees. Unless the state government is some den of drug abuse, I don't see how the benefits of this program will outweigh the costs. Spending millions of taxpayer dollars every year in order to catch a couple of desk jockeys that smoke a little weed on the weekends just seems like a waste of money to me. If given a choice between spending money on these tests or a tax cut, I choose a tax cut.

  • Mensan||

    I could have swore they were already illegal here.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    The cameras, which are going up in a growing number of Florida communities, would raise $158 million next fiscal year, including $70.1 million for the state and $71.7 million for local governments, according to the most recent estimates. Violations cost drivers $158.

    A tax by any other name would smell just as sweet.

  • ||

    Heck, most traffic fines are that.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Of course they are. If you look at the list of charges and fines that come with most citations these days, the price is usually enough to take a chunk out of your wallet, but not enough to take you off the road.

    Shave a cat many times, skin him once.

  • ||

    Sounds like a scam to me.

  • Spoonman.||

    Since they made the math so convenient, they're assuming that they will get ~1 million violations in a year, which means 5% of their population will run a monitored red light?

  • David E. Gallaher/Ruthless||

    Whenever this subject arises, I feel obligated to comment that cameras only make a bad idea worse.

  • mr lizard||

    I'm surprised this is coming from the legislature. Normally it takes a grass roots citizen referendum to get rid of these. Ironically in Tampa bay there has not been a whole lot of rage. During rush hour it was quite common for 10 extra cars to bull through on a red light. Of course instead of fixing the light timing they just installed cameras.

  • ||

    Shit pisses me off, and I'm in Tampa.

  • Mensan||

    That has long been the thing I hate most about driving in Tampa. The worst place for it is within a 1-mile radius of USF.

  • ||

    Having lived here (off and on) for quite some time now, I must say that people from Tampa drive fine. Unfortunately, a great deal of the people who live here aren't from here. The major downturn in driving in the last twenty years has, curiously, paralleled a migration of New Yorkers to our area. They used to all move to SE Florida, but I guess it got full or something.

  • Carol||

    It is still common in Tampa. My favorite is at Adamo & 41. Nobody stops there.

  • ||

    RLCs violate privacy? What a joke.

    If RLCs violate privacy, then so does a cop standing on a street corner writing down plate numbers of people who run red lights.

    To repeat my analysis from threads past, rear-end collisions are by far the least dangerous type, and it is these that are increased during the acclimation period. The collisions caused by people running red lights are head-on or T-bone, which are far more dangerous due to the higher Δv.

    And libertarians should jump at the chance to reduce opportunities for police to pull people over and fish for search permission. Nowhere in libertarianism does it say you have a right to break traffic laws without consequence.

  • Saro||

    From a rights standpoint, I don't see a constitutional issue with cameras. The picture is just evidence, after-all, and your accuser is the state. Same as if they had caught you robbing a 7-11 on cameras.

    I do, however, have a few complaints regarding their use:

    1. Many don't show the state of the light itself; just the plate of the accused. I can go around taking pictures of license plates all I want but it doesn't prove a traffic infraction occurred.

    2. They don't make the roads any safer.

    They installed some cameras in an intersection by my house last month. Now, every time the yellow light appears there, I instinctively slam on the brakes. If I'm .02 seconds late on clearing the intersection, I get a ticket and an insurance rate hike, but if I get rear-ended by the guy behind me, I get neither. Guess which is the better option for me?

  • Mensan||

    The law includes "presumption [of guilt] against the owner of the vehicle." I know it's not a criminal charge, but I don't like any law that says you are presumed guilty until proven innocent.

  • Alice Bowie||

    I agree 100%.

    In addition, COPS, Judges, politicians, and their family members will ALSO get the ticket. They just can't simply pull out and show their 'get-out-of-dui-free' card and get 'professional courtesy'.

  • Alice Bowie||

    ...and, if the Cops and their family were subjected to RADAR Cameras waiting for them at the bottom of the hill of a 25mph zone that was 40mph two seconds ago this practice would go away and the speed limit would probably go up to a reasonable mph.

  • ||

    If you don't want a ticket, don't break the law. Dumbasses.

  • ||

    The National Motorists Association (motorists.org) has a better claim to credit. They have been fighting this issue for years.

    The main problems with RLCs are not about surveillance, but safety.

    (1) RLCs tend to be installed where the yellow light is too short. Where the yellow light is lengthened to reflect the speeds of actual traffic, the number of tickets issued falls to where the RLC is no longer profitable. (Indeed, in many cases the company that operates the RLCs -- usually Redflex -- has shortened the yellow lights or even moved sensors that control the traffic light, without any legal authorization, in order to generate more violations.)

    (2) At most RLC installations, the vast majority of tickets issued are to people making right turns who slow to less than 5 mph but don't completely stop. This practice isn't unsafe and ought to be legal; it certainly doesn't merit a $200+ fine.

    (3) People, including myself, are often surprised by RLCs and have to slam on the brakes to avoid a ticket. This increases rear-end collisions more than any decrease in T-bone collisions that you might expect if the cameras really reduced red-light running.

    Reason ought to interview the NMA people. They were actively lobbying for repeal of the national 55 limit, ultimately successfully, for years before anyone else.

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