Monday, July 12, 2010

Traffic Cameras - Call it Big Brother's New Tax

Do you still think that Hallandale Beach the "City of Choice" ?

Not anymore for many drivers who, as you will read below, will try to avoid Hallandale's cameras trap.

One Million Dollars in six months! This is the take of the city and they have recently increased the fine from $125 to $158, so that they can share part of this revenue with the State of Florida.

And that's just the beginning.

$158 for not slowing down enough at a red light right turn, seems so excessive and such an hypocritical money grab!

Just more money-generating, privacy-invading, shameful scheme.

Every little chip hammered out of our Constitution brings us one step closer to George Orwell's and Aldous Huxley's perfect universes.

I'll take freedom over the so called "safety" any day of the week.

Big Brother has many Eyes!

Here is what I read today in the Sun Sentinel:

Rolling right turn could cost you $158

Red-light cameras are helping Hallandale Beach raise $1 million

In theory, red-light cameras are supposed to be about safety, curbing reckless drivers from blowing through intersections at high speeds.

But the reality at one South Florida intersection seems more like a game of "Gotcha," with an astounding 93 percent of violations going to unwitting drivers making rolling right turns on red. "This feels like a money grab," said Phil Kodroff, one of almost 11,000 drivers to get snagged by Hallandale Beach's red-light camera since it started snapping away in January.

The city's take by mid-June: almost $1 million.

"Let's be honest about it, we're here to gouge you," said Hallandale Beach Commissioner Keith London, an opponent of red-light cameras. "To say it's about public safety is pretty disingenuous. It's all about the revenue." Love them or hate them, the cameras soon will become fixtures of South Florida life. Now that the devices have gotten the green light from the Legislature and Gov. Charlie Crist, more cash-strapped cities will be turning to them for easy money.

In the past week, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Boynton Beach have moved forward with plans to install cameras. They will join Hallandale Beach, Pembroke Pines and West Palm Beach, which already have cameras running. Royal Palm Beach installed cameras in November but has been issuing only warnings; fines likely will start by September. Under the law that took effect July 1, fines for the first offense increased to $158 from $125, with the money now divided between the state and cities.

"The mentality of the South Florida driver is going to have to change," said Mark Antonio, interim city manager of Hallandale Beach. Said Hallandale Beach Police Maj. Dwayne Flournoy: "It's the 'Halo effect.' If you get compliant at one intersection, your behavior will change at all the others."

Kodroff, of Hollywood, said his behavior has changed: He is avoiding Hallandale Beach's camera intersection at Federal Highway and Hallandale Beach Boulevard, along with the businesses on that corridor.

After a steak dinner at the Gulfstream Park casino complex May 22, Kodroff thought he had an uneventful drive home to his beachfront condo. A month later, he opened his mail to find a $125 ticket. His speed when he made the right on red onto Hallandale Beach Boulevard, according to the violation notice: "0." "It's not sensible," Kodroff said. "I hit my brakes, I thought I came to a full stop."

A Miami-Dade judge put the brakes on the cameras in February, when he ruled that Aventura's program was improper. But legislators rewrote state law to allow them. Fines are sent to the registered owners of vehicles. The owners can appeal or get the fine transferred if they weren't driving. Under the new law, the vendor no longer gets a percentage of revenue, but a fixed monthly rate. American Traffic Solutions of Scottsdale, Ariz., dominates the market, managing the programs for all the South Florida cities.

Camera advocates say they make red-light runners think twice before blowing through intersections, reducing devastating T-bone crashes. But critics say the cameras could spur an increase in rear-end collisions, as people slam on their brakes at the last second. "If it's used in the right context, catching people who blow through a light, I don't have a problem with it," said Kodroff, who paid his fine without disputing it. "But getting people making a right on red, if they stop after the crosswalk or are going two miles per hour, seems a little shady."

Hallandale Beach is alone in enforcing right-turn violations

The Sun Sentinel - July 10, 2010 – By Michael Mayo.

Henry B. Nathan is a Florida Realtor at United Realty Group Inc.

Visit my websites:

Post a Comment