Saturday, January 25, 2014

Hooray for Hallandale Beach!

I have been a long time opponent of these nasty red-light cameras. I am a firm believer that government must use a strong arm in protecting the citizens whose votes had given the authority. But this power should only be used to improve the life and enjoyment of the people.
Traffic cameras are a malicious way of taxation that only benefits outside corporations without improving our lives, safety, happiness, in any measurable way.

But why argue if we can just mention facts ?

The couple of articles that I reproduce below bring some insight and raise some valid questions about the controversial traffic “big brother”.

Hallandale to dump red-light cameras

From The Sun Sentinel, January 23, 2014|  

HALLANDALE BEACH — Red-light cameras are getting the heave-ho in this seaside city.

Saying he was following through on a campaign promise, Commissioner William Julian made a motion Wednesday to get rid of the cameras as soon as legally possible. 
Commissioner Michele Lazarow quickly agreed.
"I absolutely do not feel they should be in Hallandale," she said. "I don't believe we need them here."
The motion passed 4-1, making Hallandale Beach the first city in Broward County to get rid of the cameras.
Mayor Joy Cooper dissented, saying the cameras help stop red-light runners and make the city's streets safer.
Hallandale Beach has a contract with Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions for three red-light cameras.
A clause in the contract allows the city to get rid of the cameras after giving the company 45 days notice, records show.
Because the issue was not listed on Wednesday night's agenda, no one from the company was at the meeting. January 23, 2014

This second article was published ten days before the first one. 
by The Sun Sentinel -  January 13, 2014

Red light cameras again face fight in Legislature

More than 1 million citations were issued for red-light camera violations statewide over one year ¿ more than 15 times the number of tickets issued by law enforcement to drivers running red lights.
More than 1 million citations were issued for red-light camera violations statewide over one year — more than 15 times the number of tickets issued by law enforcement to drivers running red lights.

Yet, red light cameras may run into a road block this year if some state lawmakers get their way.
New cameras would be prohibited after July 1 and fines from existing cameras would cut in half from $158 to $83 under a bill introduced by Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami. Another bill seeks to do away with the cameras altogether.
The only money local governments would get would be a $25 surcharge on tickets to fund the existing cameras.

"We are not removing the cameras that are already there," Artiles said of his proposal. "If red-light cameras are a safety issue, what we're doing is basically saying the local governments shouldn't be profiting from them."

But there will be strong opposition to doing away with them from cities, safety advocates, law enforcement agencies and the Arizona company that provides most of the state's cameras, American Traffic Solutions. The company already has hired 23 lobbyists in Tallahassee.

The proposal is expected to face a tough challenge in front of the Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater, who supports red-light cameras.
Similar proposals failed in 2011 and 2012, though lawmakers last year included a provision in the transportation bill making it tougher for municipalities to issue tickets to drivers turning right on red.
In Pembroke Pines, officials are negotiating a new contract for its red-light camera program. The city stopped issuing red-light camera tickets after its 5-year contract expired this year.

Commissioners said that the former contract placed too many cameras throughout the city and cost the city too much money. Under the new contract, the city is considering reducing the number of red-light cameras from 22 to eight and to place the cameras only in busy intersections such as those on Pines Boulevard.
"We're also looking at the bills and seeing what happens and how it could affect the program not only for us but for everybody who has red light cameras" said assistant city manager Aner Gonzalez.

The legislation might be a moot point for Palm Beach County. On Tuesday, county commissioners will discuss whether it should continue the county's red-light camera program. The county's contract with American Traffic Solutions expires in June.

So far, the county has not made any money off its red-light cameras, which are at eight intersections in the unincorporated area. Nor has there been a significant reduction in crashes.
Unlike the cities, the county doesn't give citations for right turns on red or for violations that occur within a half-second of a red light. As a result, the citations have been limited and haven't raised enough cash to cover the cost of the program.

In addition, the number of citations has decreased over time. An analysis of four intersections with red-light cameras showed there was no widespread reduction in crashes at those intersections. While there were small reductions in some types of crashes, there was no clear trend across the board, said Dan Wiesberg, the county's traffic engineer. And at all four intersections, rear-end crashes increased 21 percent.
Meanwhile, the state released a report earlier this month showing that crashes had declined at intersections with cameras in a majority of municipalities. Among the highlights of the report, based on data from July 2012 to June 2013:

Nearly 1.1 million citations were issued with 36,063 contested by vehicle owners. About two thirds of the contested citations were dismissed by the municipality issuing the ticket.
Only 5 percent of the citations went to repeat offenders.
By comparison, Florida law enforcement officers issued 72,465 citations to drivers who ran red lights in 2012.

Of 79 municipalities with cameras that were surveyed, 17 said crashes increased, 33 saw crashes decrease and six reported no change. The rest did not respond to the state's survey, which did not break out red-light camera crash data for specific municipalities.
The report is the second statewide analysis of camera data since the Legislature in 2010 permitted cities to install red-light cameras on state roads.
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