Saturday, April 17, 2010

These guys ain't getting my vote! Traffic Cameras are a scam

That's what the experts say.

And they are right.

A Judge against them a few weeks ago in Aventura. However many cities haven't moved to take them out.

Their hope is that they will finally overcome this judge's opinion. The ruling was only the state could issue traffic violation tickets of this kind.

Oh yea? said the State. Just give us our cut and the cameras will stay.

What a shame! Let's put cameras in our homes, in our schools, in our theaters, in our parks. We'll then supervise everybody and prevent all infractions. A camera in my bedroom? Why not?
A camera in the bar to monitor how many shots you've had tonight? Wonderful.

Is this going to be the wonderful world our elected officers promised us?

I hope not. I will monitor every one of my city's commissioners. And whoever voted yes to these cameras is not getting my vote next time.

This is what I read a couple of days ago. It will give my readers an idea about how greed and bureaucracy unleashed can work.

Will Florida take a cut? Red-light cameras make millions -- but may be in peril

In the Florida House and Senate, one bill would kill red-light cameras, while two would allow them but cut the state in on the fines. Which option do you prefer? Kill red-light cameras. They're unfair and a moneymaker for areas that install them. Let the state take a cut of fines. Cameras make money off scofflaws -- what's wrong with that? Neither. Cameras have their benefits, but the state doesn't deserve any of the fines.

Cameras that catch motorists running red lights are generating millions of dollars for cities such as Orlando and Apopka, but the future of the programs is uncertain - thanks to the Florida Legislature. Three bills are working their way through the House and Senate: One would kill the cameras, while two others would allow them to continue but cut the state in on the action. "I would suggest to you that anyone who says they know what is going to happen is a liar," said Scott Dudley, a lobbyist for the Florida League of Cities.

More than 100 cities, including at least 30 in Florida, and 20 states allow red-light cameras. More than 30 countries have approved them, too, as far back as the 1970s. Orange County and St. Petersburg intend to install them but are waiting to see what the Legislature decides.

Supporters say the cameras cut down on accidents because motorists learn to slow and stop at the intersections, which are marked with signs. Opponents dismiss them as money generators that actually make intersections more dangerous because people stop unexpectedly to avoid a ticket, causing followers to hit them from behind. There are no definitive studies backing up either side.

Lawmakers have discussed installing cameras on state roads for years but have not passed a law to enable them, in part because they were wary of the claim that the arrangements are simply a government moneymaker, not a true safety measure. But this time could be different because lawmakers once again are pressed to balance the budget and are running out of financial options. That has triggered some legislators, such as Republicans Thad Altman in the Senate and Ron Reagan in the House, to consider funneling potential fines from red-light cameras into the general fund. Rep. Ron Schenck, R-Spring Hill, has a bill that would abolish the use of red-light cameras in the state.

Previous legislative discussions had centered on taking ticket revenue and using it largely for public safety or to underwrite emergency-room operations. State law overrules local regulations, so whatever Tallahassee decides must followed by the cities or counties. Officials in Orlando and Apopka want their programs to continue, but they have different agendas. Orlando, which has collected more than $3.3 million in fines since operating the first camera in the fall of 2008, uses the money to pay the private operator of the system and to expand to more intersections. Initially, the city had five; now 12 intersections are monitored by cameras. The city keeps the money in a separate account.

"We're not using it for police or fire or the general fund," said Kathy Russell, the city's lobbyist. Apopka also places its money in a separate account but intends to use it to for the city's daily operations, once the Legislature decides what it will do, said Apopka police Chief Chuck Vavrek. "It should help to offset [expenses] and help the citizens," Vavrek said.

Vavrek is not a fan of Florida getting into the business - because the two of the bills being considered would take money from the city operations and funnel it to the state. "Here we go putting money to Tallahassee when it doesn't help [Apopka]," he said. Orlando thinks it can break even on the cameras even if the state takes some of the money. The city just wants a decision. "Come on, Legislature," Russell said. "Get it done."

Since starting its program in mid-2007, Apopka has brought in more than $1.4 million in fines from two intersections, both of which cross U.S. Highway 441, the main drag through downtown Apopka. Unlike Orlando, Apopka also issues a ticket for vehicles that do not come to a complete stop before making a right turn on a red light. Vavrek said he could not break out how many citations are issued for turning right versus going straight through an intersection.

Both Orlando and Apopka charge $125 a ticket. The state could charge $150 or more. Critics maintain the cameras do little other than run up fines on unsuspecting motorists.

"Cameras are a total fraud," said Greg Mauz, a Texas consultant who works with the Best Highway Safety Practices Institute, a nonprofit founded in Portland, Ore., that tracks motoring. He estimates that cities across the country are bringing in $18 million a day through red-light cameras.

John Large, a University of South Florida professor who has extensively studied the setups, said if safety is the real concern, cities would simply lengthen the amount of time the yellow light is on by at least one second. He maintains the vast majority of red-light-camera tickets are issued to people who entered the intersection less than a second after the light changed. He also recommends having all the lights at an intersection stay on red for a second to allow traffic to pass through.

Follow those two suggestions, he said, and "I guarantee you these camera companies will disappear because they will not make enough money."

From the Orlando Sentinel – April 10, 2019

Henry B. Nathan is a Florida Realtor at United Realty Group Inc.
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where you can search for Aventura Condos, Florida Condos, Sunny Isles Condos,

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