Study: Red-light cameras making some Fla. intersections more dangerous
Updated On: Feb 02 2014 11:00:00 PM EST
A new state study shows red-light cameras, that many drivers dislike so much, are actually making intersections more dangerous.
The new numbers come as the fight over red-light cameras is heating up again in Tallahassee.
Red-light cameras have been clearly capturing red-light runners in Florida for four years now, but their future may be a little fuzzy.
State Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, is leading a new fight against red-light cameras, sponsoring a bill that would not only put a moratorium on any new devices, but also reduce the fine by $75 -- from $158 to $83 -- eliminating the portion of the penalty that goes to the city or county issuing the violation.
"If safety is an issue they should be supporting my bill, but if it's a money making scheme they're not going to support my bill," said Artiles.
Artiles thinks the roads will actually be safer without the cameras and the numbers show he may be right.
Statewide, according to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, "crashes at red-light intersections increased by 21 percent last year."
Locally the results are mixed. Crashes were down in Miami, Aventura and Margate, but they were up in Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, Doral and West Park.
It should be noted that 40 percent of the 79 cities and counties surveyed said their crash data wasn't available.
"I think that, in my opinion, they're cooking the books, they don't want to show an increase in rear-end collisions as opposed to T-bones," said Artiles.
"I was all in favor of red-light cameras in the beginning," said Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Bill Julian.
Julian spearheaded his city's recent move to get rid of the cameras -- the first city in Broward to do so.
While Hallandale Beach reported a decrease in collisions last year by 17 percent, Julian believes the devices have already changed drivers' behaviors and now only create more problems than they solve.
"Studies show it really doesn't make anything safer, it actually makes it a little more dangerous," said Julian.
The Florida Police Chief's Association and the League of Cities both oppose Artiles' bill, and the Texas behind them has deep pockets and lot of friends in Tallahassee. But the Miami lawmaker believes it's time red-light camera supporters put their safety card back in the deck.
"This is about volume, this is about money and unfortunately there has to be a balance, and there is no balance right now," said Artiles.