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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Red light cameras may be installed in Hillsborough
Sunday, March 2, 2008
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY (Bay News 9) -- Some Bay area counties may be getting cameras to detect red light runners, if a group of lawmakers gets its way.

"Florida is notorious for red light runners, said St. Petersburg Times reporter Mike Brassfield. "Every year in Florida about 100 people get killed and another 6,000 people get injured by people running red lights."

Brassfield, with our newspaper partner the St. Petersburg Times, is working on an in depth report about red light running. He says many Florida counties and cities want to use cameras to detect red light runners, but an unclear Florida law stands in the way.

"Right now the state law is not clear on red light cameras," Brassfield said. "There's only two cities in Florida that have them: one in the panhandle and one in Orlando."

In the Bay area, Hillsborough County along with several cities are hoping to install cameras at some of the area's worst intersections.

The intersection at North Dale Mabry and North Lakeview is being considered for a camera because it is considered one of the deadliest intersections in the Tampa area when it comes to red light running.

Other intersections that top the list are North Dale Mabry and West Waters Avenue, East Lumsden Road and Bryan Road, as well as East Hillsborough Avenue and Harney Road.

The camera debate has been an ongoing argument for years. Some state leaders say allowing cameras would enable law enforcement officers to keep streets and residents safe, but others argue it's an invasion of privacy.

"It's not clear yet whether law makers are going to change the state law; they're closer than ever this year though," Brassfield said.

If a driver is caught by a camera, a photo of the driver's car going through a red light will arrive in the mail, along with a ticket.

http://www.baynews9.com/content/36/...ight+cameras+may+be+installed+in+Hillsborough
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Eyes on intersections
Red-light cameras are coming, and a state legislator wants to allow more.
By Mike Brassfield, Times Staff Writer
Published March 3, 2008

Driving around Clearwater last week, Peter Paulding was stunned by how many cars were running red lights.

"You've got this phenomenon called 'platooning' where cars keep going through the red light to keep opposing traffic from coming through," he said. "It's very common there."

Then he returned to his job as police chief of the Pensacola suburb of Gulf Breeze, one of two Florida cities ticketing drivers based on evidence from red-light cameras. His recommendation for west-central Florida: "You could use them."

We're about to get them.

The cameras are coming to the area beginning this month, and they'll almost certainly become more widespread if Florida legislators smooth the way by changing a state law this spring. This is plunging the state into a long-running nationwide debate: Are these devices just a bunch of cities' moneymaking schemes, a Big Brother-ish invasion of privacy? Or are they a way to restore sanity to intersections by fighting what officials call an "epidemic" of red-light running?

Some local cities like St. Petersburg are interested in posting the cameras at dangerous intersections, but they're waiting for legislators to clear up the law. Thanks to a loophole in that law, places like Clearwater, Hillsborough County, Temple Terrace and Port Richey are already bringing in the cameras or are strongly considering it.

"I wish they were already up," said police Lt. David Brown of Port Richey, which will install its first one in a couple of weeks along crash-prone U.S. 19. "People say it's a cash cow, but all we're trying to do is save lives. If you don't run the red light, you won't hear from us."

More than 300 cities in two dozen states use cameras to ticket drivers who blow through stoplights. Nearly a dozen companies that provide and operate the cameras get a cut of the ticket revenue. This arrangement gets a lot of criticism. But cities insist that partnerships with private firms are the only realistic way to get the cameras in the first place, and at no cost to taxpayers.

No insurance penalty

In Florida cities like Gulf Breeze and the Orlando suburb of Apopka, it works like this: Cameras on poles videotape and photograph the offending cars and their license plates, but not the drivers. Only three states allow face photos.

After a local police officer reviews the evidence on the camera vendor's secure Web site, the company sends the photos and a $125 ticket to the car owner. Drivers who don't believe they broke the law can go online and watch a 12-second video of the violation.

The tickets aren't considered moving violations and don't involve insurance points. Instead they're civil citations, more like parking tickets.

Officials who want the cameras say too many Floridians aren't taking stoplights seriously. They also point to polls showing strong support for the cameras.

State figures show that red-light running kills about 100 people and injures more than 6,000 in Florida each year. Hillsborough County, which will hold a public hearing Thursday on its plans to install the cameras, had nearly 450 red-light crashes last year, while its sheriff's deputies wrote nearly 3,800 tickets for red-light running.

Still, drivers like Tampa cabbie Charles Smalling have concerns about the cameras. He gave Hillsborough County commissioners a hypothetical situation: "I'm going to a light, and it starts to turn red. I put on the brakes, and a car behind me is coming. I can't go through that light - I'm going to get a ticket. But if I don't go through the light, I'll get hit from the rear."

The camera companies say their employees and traffic cops view the videos to weed out drivers who don't deserve tickets. Also, like any citation, these can be contested in traffic court.

Drivers who enter an intersection on a yellow light, are in a funeral procession or get stuck in a left-turn lane waiting for oncoming traffic to clear out don't get tickets, said Josh Weiss of American Traffic Solutions, which has camera deals with Apopka and Port Richey and is talking to Temple Terrace.

"It's about money, control and power over the average motorist," argues Henry Stowe of Sanford, an activist with the grass roots National Motorists Association. He notes that some researchers have seen a rise in rear-end collisions after the cameras go up, as drivers slam on the brakes at yellow or red lights. That's one reason why Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio rejected the idea.

Richard Redding, a traffic engineer for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, reviewed a decade's worth of studies and found that they differ on the question of rear-end crashes. But they show about a 25 percent drop in deadlier T-bone collisions and "right-angle crashes," the kind that occur when someone who's making a left turn gets hit by an oncoming driver who doesn't stop on red. "At worst, the cameras are increasing fender benders and preventing the kinds of crashes that kill people and destroy lives," he said.

Banned on state roads

Florida bans the cameras from its rights-of-way on state roads, but some cities are getting around that by sticking them on private property near troublesome intersections. The law has stopped St. Petersburg from seeking the cameras because many of its major thoroughfares are state roads, said city traffic director Joe Kubicki.

Powerful lawmakers have opposed the cameras for years, calling them profit-driven government intrusions. But Rep. Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, is sponsoring a bill that would allow the cameras on state land, and he thinks it will prevail this time. Cities like Orlando, Jacksonville and Sarasota are watching.

"There's no expectation of privacy when you're in a vehicle on a public highway," he said. "We take pictures of toll booth violators, don't we?"

Mike Brassfield can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3435.



In Hillsborough

Hillsborough County will hold a public hearing on red-light cameras at 2 p.m. Thursday at the County Center in downtown Tampa.

Possible locations

Here are 10 intersections where its Sheriff's Office wants to use them to catch red-light runners:

-N Dale Mabry Highway and N Lakeview Drive

-N Dale Mabry Highway and W Waters Avenue

-E Lumsden Road and Bryan Road

-E Hillsborough Avenue and Harney Road

-W Linebaugh Avenue and Henderson Road

-Providence Road and Town Center Boulevard

-U.S. 41 South and Gibsonton Drive

-W Brandon Boulevard and N Kings Avenue

-E Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and S Kingsway Road

-E Fletcher Avenue and Interstate 275



[Last modified March 2, 2008, 21:51:19]

http://www.sptimes.com/2008/03/03/State/Eyes_on_intersections.shtml
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I meant to post this thread with a poll, but several errors prevented this from happening. Please post your opinion about this matter anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
^^
Actually, that is a good point. Have you ever been across the Crosstown reversible lanes east of US 301 going eastbound? The traffic signal at the end of the bridge always has me worried because the cameras are there and I don't know what they're used for. I always seem to hit that intersection right when the light turns yellow and it is too late for me to slow down and stop.
 

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No way. I lived in Raleigh where they did this, and I can tell you that there were MORE accidents after the cameras were installed than before. People slam on their brakes as soon as the light turns yellow causing many rear end collisions. It just isn't worth it. Not to mention I know a whole family ticketed for going through a red light during a funeral procession - even though they were following a police car. It's just crazy. Each person had to fight it, or just pay it. It just isn't worth it.
 

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^^
Actually, that is a good point. Have you ever been across the Crosstown reversible lanes east of US 301 going eastbound? The traffic signal at the end of the bridge always has me worried because the cameras are there and I don't know what they're used for. I always seem to hit that intersection right when the light turns yellow and it is too late for me to slow down and stop.
I think those cameras are there just to manage traffic flow.
 

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They aren't a complete sham - they're notorious here in Berkeley and work really well. However, if they are mismanaged, they can be problematic - and yes, I'd try to discover where the income from these cameras will go.
 

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look at how this sort of thing is operated... a for profit corporation gets a cut of everything, for doing nothing that can't be done by the same employee, working non-profit directly for the government. I don't know about the rest of you, but I am vehemently against such deals where a corporation profits from the administration of law enforcement. If there is one place in our society where the ethics should be crystal clear, it is that we cannot have a system of laws which is enforced according to profit motive.
 

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^ That is how the system in Raleigh works too. The city gets a small cut, but the majority of the funds go to a corporation. It's a shame really.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If all these companies get their way, maybe around 2020, the entire United States will be run by mega-corporations, LOL. If anyone of you have heard of the video game "Perfect Dark", then you will know what I am talking about. In the game, the entire world is ruled by hyper-corporations, leaving governments totally helpless.
 

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Our generation's trend towards government itself becoming little more than a tool to mandate profit for privileged investors, is what originally got me thinking about the possibility of living in another country.
You can thank the Republican party...and the Democratic party too who isn't all that much better.
 

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Something that isn't really a trojan horse for government to forcibly mandate gauranteed profit for a corporation which typically has financial ties (most typically campaign donations) to the poeple in government approving the contract.
Hey Jason (and all), I appreciate your sentiment, and I'll even go along with your thought process. But red light running is a very real problem. How do you propose to resolve it? In other words - do you have a better idea, or are you just suggesting we ignore it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Commissioners approve camera plan

Red light cameras approved in Hillsborough County
Friday, March 7, 2008

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY (Bay News 9) -- Red light cameras will be coming to some Hillsborough County intersections to detect red light runners.

Commissioners voted Thursday to install the cameras at major intersections to catch violators.

Running a light could land drivers a $125 fine.

There's no word on when the cameras will be installed.

Commissioners said they believed the cameras would save lives.

http://www.baynews9.com/content/36/...light+cameras+approved+in+Hillsborough+County
 

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Hey Jason (and all), I appreciate your sentiment, and I'll even go along with your thought process. But red light running is a very real problem. How do you propose to resolve it? In other words - do you have a better idea, or are you just suggesting we ignore it?

According to my dad, who worked traffic homicade for a while, and has been a cop for like 20, monitoring intersections will do next to nothing to stem the problem of collisions occurring where opposing rights of way cross paths. The collisions are largely caused by human error, which will not change just because the penalty is stiffer when a mistake is made. (sociological research generally bears that out)

So, my solution is the same as it has always been... if our community wants to stop suffering the ills of a poorly conceived transportation network, then we should start building a more intelligent transportation network which averts such issues in a precautionary manner, not a punitive one. Slapping Orwellian band-aids geared to generate profit, not solve the problem will do nothing to lower insurance rates, nor the rate of human suffering brought about by a cheap and poorly conceived transportation network.

So, if people don't want to redesign our shitty transportation network, but want it to be safer, the most effective options are clear... We can't eliminate distractions for drivers, and we can't eliminate the congestion which convinces drivers psychologically that they must 'hurry', or face the penalty of being late to their destination... However, we can lower the speed limit, lengthen yellow lights, and lengthen the time lapse between one right of way's red light, and the intersecting right of way's green light.

All of those measures would mitigate the impact of red light running on traffic collision statistics. However, all of those solutions also reduce capacity, which means more money to expand the network to achieve the same capacity with the higher safety standard. This is why nothing has been done, because real solutions require real problem solving and real leadership.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
^^
Keep in mind Jason that in places like Europe, people cannot even pass through a yellow light. It is against the law there and people get ticketed for such. Th US is fortunate not to have that type of law in place. However, I don't know if lengthening yellow lights here will do much help. Even though many people just blow thorough them.
 
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