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Florida Is Cashing in on Red-Light Cameras

Bay News 9

While Florida's $158 fine is not as high as the penalty California red-light runners pay -$490 with one point on their drivers license - it is among the highest fines among the 24 states and territories with red-light traffic fines according to a Stateline report.

Florida drivers who were caught by red-light cameras paid more than $100 million in traffic fines last year. But whether the cameras made Florida’s roads safer—or just swelled state and city coffers—is an open question.

“Three years ago, these red-light cameras were pitched as safety devices,” said state Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican who has proposed a state ban on the cameras. “Instead, they’ve been a backdoor tax increase.”

This amid allegations that some Florida communities reduced the timing of the yellow lights to produce more ticket revenue and a new state law that charges Florida drivers $250 in administrative fees if they lose a challenge on a red-light ticket.

Some studies show that red-light cameras - at intersections where there used to be a lot of violations - have reduced the number of side-impact collisions. However, those studies also show an increase in rear-end collisions according to a 7-year study by the Virginia Transportation Research Council and research by Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Compare Florida's fines with the 23 other states and territories that allow red-light traffic cameras. It's a $50 fine in Virginia and Tennessee. And you can find out which states have banned red-light cameras and which states are now using cameras to catch speeders.

Copyright 2013 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.