Florida Drivers Debate the Use of Red-Light Enforcement Cameras

At The Pittman Firm, we operate in civil courts to help victims of car accidents in Panama City recover compensation for their injuries. While the civil system is separate and distinct from the criminal system, efforts to enforce traffic laws can be essential to preventing accidents, thus keeping innocent people from being injured or even killed in collisions. We believe in helping victims recover essential money damages, but we also believe that prevention should always be a top priority.

According to a story carried by WJHG, a number of drivers are protesting tickets issued after red light cameras captured traffic violations. The cameras are set above a number of Florida roadways and set to photograph drivers proceeding when they have a red light. Many drivers, including some interviewed in the article, have paid tickets issued as a result of camera photos. They don't do so happily, but they see the image and take responsibility for the infraction.

In contrast, hundreds of drivers are challenging tickets issued as a result of the cameras, and four cases have moved into Florida's Forth District Court of Appeal, and at least one being considered by the Florida Supreme Court. One challenge focuses on who issues the tickets, which arrive via mail. The plaintiff in that case argues the tickets are illegal and invalid because they are processed and issued by an Arizona company rather than written directly by a Florida police officer.

While cases wait to be heard in the courts, Paul Henry is working on legislative change. The former state trooper and retired sheriff's deputy is working on a repeal bill. Henry believes that the cameras are leading to numerous injustices. He has prepared a report that highlights cases where the wrong driver was ticketed and other examples where people received fines even though they had a green light. Further, Henry expresses concern that the cameras are moving us closer to a "Big Brother"-style surveillance society. Other opponents of the cameras suggest that the cameras actually increase accidents, specifically rear-end collisions, because drivers are stopping on yellow lights.

The Federal Highway Administration ("FHWA") disagrees with the camera's detractors. Referencing research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the FHWA found that more than 2.3 million intersection-related crashes in 2008 caused more than 7,700 deaths and included approximately 733,000 injury-causing accidents. Further detail in the study attributed 762 deaths specifically to red-light running in 2008 and suggested the behavior causes approximately 165,000 injuries per year. Examining camera use, the FHWA concluded the technology reduced the frequency of red-light running and the number of associated crashes.

We appreciate the concerns of red-light camera opponents but also applaud the effort to use technology to improve safety on Florida highways. We hope that both law enforcement and legislative groups continue to work on preventing car accidents. We will continue to support prevention efforts while also working to help accident victims. Please call our office so our Panama City personal injury attorney can help you get the compensation you need and deserve.

For more information on red-light running and the use of red light cameras, see the information page assembled by the FHWA.

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