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Florida Red-Light Tickets By Camera

Palm Bay, Florida, is a long way from home in Panama City, Florida, but I found the results of their new traffic system interesting. They implemented a red-light camera system in November of last year and have already issued 2,300 warning letters to drivers who were filmed running lights. Effective February 16th, if a driver is caught on camera running a red light, a civil fine of $125 will be imposed. Interestingly enough, during this warning period, a Palm Bay city-owned vehicle, four Brevard County vehicles and two vehicles registered to the Brevard County Public Schools were among the list of drivers disobeying the traffic signals.

It is disturbing to me to read that in at least 145 instances there were driver's who were found to have been caught more than once and in 15 instances caught 3 times or more. By comparison, during 2009 before the camera system was installed, only 407 drivers were cited for running a red light.

When caught on camera, a photo of the license plate will be sent to the car owner who can access a website to view a 12-second video. It leaves little to dispute.

Not everyone is supporting this new tactic. Although opponents are challenging the legality and warn that the City of Palm Bay could end up in court, city council members voted unanimously in favor of the cameras in 2008 in response to residents' concern. Signs are posted at the intersections warning that the signal is 'photo enforced'.

The Federal Highway Administration compiled data in 2005 from 132 intersections in seven unidentified jurisdictions that had installed red-light cameras. Right angle or T-bone accidents decreased about 25% after they were installed. However, rear-end crashes increased by 15%. It's simple to avoid the latter problem. Increasing the distance between you and the car in front will allow you enough time to respond to any action taken by the driver in front.

The goal of this system is to get people to stop when the light turns red, not to hit them with tickets and fines. Remember, a yellow light means "prepare to stop" not "hit the gas to make it through before the light turns red."

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