From Los Angeles, California to Selmer, Tennessee, there are at least 500 towns and cities in 25 states that have red light cameras. On duty 24/7, these cameras capture red light runners in the act, but are they just money makers for the towns and cities or are they making motorists safer?
Los Angeles may be the next city to remove the cameras from intersections which is what the Police Commission wants done. The City Council committee will soon decide if the 32 cameras will stay or go. For those who thought having the cameras would be a cash windfall for the city, that would pay for the system and other things, it has been a disappointing experiment.
Even though the fine for running a red light is $446 the city is only getting paid for 33 percent of the tickets that are sent out. The city is in a million dollar hole in operating expenses for the cameras, unlike Chicago where 400 cameras generated over $64 million in 2009. And LA has yet to prove that the cameras increased public safety.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration using red light cameras should:
-Decrease the occurrence of violations.
-Increase public safety by the use of technology.
-Increase public awareness of the dangers of red light runner and increase the idea that violators will be caught.
-Free up law enforcement for other tasks.
-Stress deterrence instead of punishment and safety instead of revenue generation.
-Educate the public about why the red light camera program is in operation.
LA is not the only city having issues with red light cameras. There’s an intense court battle brewing in Houston, after a U.S. district judge recently ruled that a voter approved measure to take down the city’s 70+ cameras was “invalid on procedural grounds.”
Weighing in on the debate if red light cameras save lives, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety analyzed traffic data from the 99 largest U.S. cities for the last 10 years. Their conclusion was that if all 99 cities had red light cameras 815 victims would not have died in traffic crashes between 2004 and 2008. Currently, of those 99 cities only 14 have cameras.
“We still have thousands of people who die,” said Adrian Lund, the Insurance Institute’s president. “We look at where and how that’s happening, and one of the most dangerous (locations) is intersections.”
Issues occurring in other states and cities:
-Failing in the Senate, Florida’s House recently passed a bill banning red light cameras.
-Residents of Albuquerque will vote later this year on the fate of their 20 red light cameras, though city lawyers are debating if the vote would have any official effect.
-A Missouri circuit judge recently ruled that St. Louis’ 51 cameras were illegally enacted.
-Tennessee Governor signed a bill to limit, but not ban, the use of red light cameras.
-Awaiting House action the North Carolina Senate voted to ban cameras.
-In Spokane a Superior Court judge said red light camera tickets are invalid because they are not signed by a police officer.
If you or someone you love has been injured in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach or the surrounding areas, contact the personal injury lawyers at Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez, LLC. Call for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights at 1-800-561-7777.
Challenges to Red Light Cameras span U.S., by Alex Johnson, MSNBC
Florida Ranks 37th Nationwide in Driving Skills, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, June 11, 2011
New Report Ranks Florida First in Fatal Pedestrian Accidents, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, June 7, 2011
Intersections common site of Palm Beach car accidents, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, February 27, 2011