Bill in Florida Senate could kill red light cameras

click to enlarge Bill in Florida Senate could kill red light cameras
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Unless you run a company that makes red light cameras or are a politician whose coffers somehow benefit from having red light cameras, you probably don't like red light cameras.

Most people find them unnerving, and they may even be unconstitutional.

Those are a few among the myriad reasons State Sen. Daphne Campbell, a Miami Democrat, filed Senate Bill 630, which would outlaw them in Florida.

“In too many communities, including my own, local governments have deployed back-door tax policies such as red-light cameras as money-making ventures,” Campbell said in a press release a spokeswoman for Florida Senate Democrats sent Wednesday. “This isn’t about safety, this is about improving the bottom line, and I intend to continue the fight to stop the profiteering at the expense of my constituents.”

She also cited safety reasons.

When red light cameras were made legal in 2010, the thought was that they'd keep people safer—what with Big Brother watching and the constant threat of a ticket and all, people should quickly fall into line, right?

Nah, it turns out.

Campbell cited statistics that correlate an increase in the number of certain types of accidents and injuries with the advent of red light cameras, including a "15 percent increase in total crashes, 29 percent increase in incapacitating injuries, 17 percent increase in crashes involving non-motorists and a 10 percent increase in rear-end crashes."

Although, the Orlando Sentinel points out, the number of drivers increased in the time since most were installed, as did the volume of drivers on the road who are paying more attention to their phones than their windshields.

And while almost everyone, regardless of political leanings, agrees that red-light cameras are kind of Orwellian and that they are a vestigial Great Recession-era method of filling the revenue void left in the wake of property values melting down, banning them at the state level is still more or less preemption. In other words, a giant screw-you to home rule. Usually, that's a practice reserved for when a lawmaker wants to appease monied interests by barring cities from adopting conscientious policies on guns, the environment, etc.

So it's a mixed bag. 

Locally, Tampa has red light cameras in use, while St. Petersburg used to, but halted their use in 2014.

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