As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, accidents fell by 33 percent the first year of the program. Although more recent statistics are not available, it’s likely that accidents have decreased even more as drivers’ awareness of the cameras has led to less red-light running for fear of being caught on camera. It also frees up law enforcement to attend to more urgent police work. How many times have you seen someone run a red-light and say to yourself, “I wish a police officer was here to see that”. Cameras can see those red-light runners 24 hours a day. On Monday, city commissioners took steps to add more intersection cameras for a total of 22 cameras at 14 intersections.
In 2010, the Florida legislature approved the use of red-light cameras by municipalities and counties and established standards for the programs. The law, titled the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act, was named for the 30-year-old husband and father-to-be who was killed by a red light-runner in 2003. However, only one year later, Rep. Richard Corcoran and Sen. Rene Garcia, along with co-sponsors, are trying to reverse the law and ban all red-light cameras in Florida. Critics claim the law is just a way for cities to generate revenue, and a case of “big-brother” government spying on citizens and invading our right to privacy. On the other hand, many supporters of red-light cameras, including law enforcement, say the cameras are making our roads safer. “I think it’s a terrible thing to even attempt to repeal the red light camera bill,” said Capt. Michael Fewless of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s a public safety thing. It saves life.” In a February press release, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety detailed its findings that red light cameras saved 159 lives in 2004-08 in 14 of the biggest US cities, and had the cameras been in place in all major cities, a total of 815 deaths would have been prevented during that same time.
Last year, the legislature killed a bill that would have prevented texting while driving. This year, some legislators are trying to do away with red-light cameras by grandstanding in the name of privacy rights. The fact of the matter is that our roads are more dangerous than ever before. Government can and should take reasonable steps to make our roads safer. Although there have been some problems with these programs, such as tickets issued in error, the problems are far outweighed by the benefit of saving lives. There’s always room for improvement of red-light camera programs, but a complete ban goes too far. Do you think there is a right of privacy in running a red-light? Tell us what you think in the comment section below or vote in our poll on our facebook page. You can also contact these legislators and tell them how you feel about the issue.
Rep. Richard Corcoran at 850-488-8528 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner at 850-487-5047 or email@example.com
Sen. Rene Garcia at 850-487-5106 or firstname.lastname@example.org