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Front Page » Communities » Red light cameras cited for unfair targeting

Red light cameras cited for unfair targeting

Written by on June 4, 2019
Red light cameras cited for unfair targeting

Cities operating red light cameras on US 1 in South Dade may disproportionately target nonresidents commuting from unincorporated areas, Miami-Dade Commissioner Dennis Moss said Monday, adding that he plans to “have that looked at.”

Mr. Moss said he’d observed red light cameras at US 1 intersections in Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay aimed at motorist leaving municipalities traveling westward.

“In other words, the cities have… cameras set up that will basically target motorists who are going into unincorporated Miami-Dade County, but at the same location they don’t target motorists that are going into their cities,” he said during a June 3 transportation committee meeting. “If you’re ticketing both ways, OK, [but] I just want that to be looked at because if that’s the case, that’s not fair, that my residents primarily get hit with tickets.”

Mr. Moss said he’d “not necessarily heard” from constituents about there being a problem but he might sponsor a resolution or discussion item to invite other commissioners to weigh in on the matter.

Doing so would mark the first time in more than three years county lawmakers officially discussed the controversial traffic infraction detectors and the 15th related talk in less than a decade.

It also would be the second such discussion Mr. Moss requested related to the cameras installed by cities on a county road.

In 2010, Miami-Dade joined other Florida counties in authorizing red light camera installations at high-crash, high-volume intersections after state lawmakers ratified the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act, which authorizes camera enforcement of red light traffic infractions, including their use on state roads by municipalities that receive state approval.

But by late 2012, the county still had yet to install one red light camera anywhere in the unincorporated area, where it had jurisdiction to place them, and had not issued a single related citation.

County lawmakers by that time – including Commissioner Joe Martinez, the primary sponsor of the 2010 resolution – had since concluded the cameras did more damage than good.

“Red light cameras are used to generate government funds rather than to improve public safety,” then-Commissioner Lynda Bell wrote in a memo accompanying a resolution the board adopted Dec. 4, 2012, urging cities not to use the technology.

Four months later, at his first discussion item on the matter, Mr. Moss questioned the Village of Pinecrest’s right to install cameras at six US 1 intersections.

“As a county we get nothing out of the deal, and I don’t want to see… US 1 become a red light trap…,” he said. “If you do it within your own municipality, that’s fine.”

To date, Miami-Dade has yet to install a red light camera or generate funds based on infractions they detect.

In June 2016, commissioners amended the county code to prohibit their use at the county level but amended the ordinance to allow cities to continue using them.

And many do, including Pinecrest, which still operates six cameras along US 1 between Southwest 68th Court and 132nd Street, Pinecrest Public Works Director Mark Spanioli confirmed Tuesday.

Medley Mayor Roberto Martell said his town still uses them to great effect.

“They’re verified before sending the ticket to make sure they did a violation,” he said. “There’s always ups and downs, but I think it’s [about] safety.”

The two other municipalities Mr. Moss mentioned, however, say they do not use red light cameras on the thoroughfare.

Palmetto Bay Public Services Director Dionisio Torres said the village council “never approved [or went] forward with these cameras.”

Similarly, Cutler Bay Public Works Director Alfredo Quintero said the town had previously operated two red light cameras but removed them two years ago and “currently [has] none.”

Throughout the state, disputes continue over red light cameras, which can also be used to enforce right-turn violations.

In November, six months after the Florida Supreme Court upheld the legality of red light camera use by local governments, Miami-Dade Judge Steven Leifman ruled that the City of Aventura’s red light camera program was unlawful.

Cities, he explained, need to have a consistent set of rules for red light cameras before violations can be enforced.

In the subsequent legislative session, Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. Anthony Sabatini introduced twin bills in the Florida Legislature aimed at prohibiting red light cameras statewide. Both bills died in committee.

Traffic infractions detected by red light cameras cost $158 at first, but that can increase to $262 if drivers cited fail to pay, according to Florida Online Traffic School.

And regardless of who’s driving, the vehicle’s registered owner receives the bill. If more than one name is listed on the registration, the first person named gets cited.

According to the Florida Department Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ “Red Light Camera Summary Report,” 508 red light cameras were active in Florida as of June 30, 2018, down from 629 the year prior.

In fiscal 2017-18, law enforcement in Florida issued almost 1.6 million notices of violation stemming from red light cameras.

Over that same period, police issued 50,249 in-person citations for red light infractions.

17 Responses to Red light cameras cited for unfair targeting

  1. Michael

    June 5, 2019 at 8:10 am

    Cameras should be posted at dangerous intersections. Politicians who vote against them are more worried about getting votes from people who run red lights than saving lives.

  2. James C. Walker

    June 5, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Everyone should be aware that the Florida Department of Transportation FORBIDS setting adequately long yellow intervals at most camera intersections. They require that the approach speed in the formula to calculate yellow intervals be the posted speed limit, even when that is about 10 mph lower than the prevailing speeds and lower than the actual speeds of 80% or 90% of the free flowing traffic. WHY? Because the state gets an $83 sales commission on each $158 ticket without paying a penny of the high camera costs. The state government is an active for-profit business partner in the red light camera rackets that should be banned by law in every state – as Texas did on 6/1/2019.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  3. Do your job

    June 9, 2019 at 1:06 am

    Okay if we don’t want red light cameras then OUR POLICE need to do their jobs and enforce the laws on the books! Sad that people keep protesting the cameras. They are not targeting anyone BUT those who run red lights! PERIOD!

  4. James C. Walker

    June 9, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    When the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) forbids most cities from setting the safest length yellow intervals for the actual conditions, the cameras become a governmental larceny racket that gives the great majority of tickets to safe drivers who endangered absolutely no one. Like a great many issues, “the devil is in the details”, and the details in this case are small but critical. About 50% to 60% of red light violations happen in the first 0.5 seconds of red and about 80% in the first 1.0 seconds. So when the FDOT rules require cities to set the yellows too short by a few tenths of a second to give most tickets to safe drivers, it makes the state into an active for-profit business partner in the red light camera rackets.

    It is FAR better to have uniformed officers give out tickets, rather than allow for-profit ticket camera companies to pervert traffic enforcement into a for-profit racket.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  5. Gerwyn Flax

    June 9, 2019 at 6:40 pm

    Please explain how red light cameras makes an intersection safe, when for example a car is approaching the intersection at legal speed when just before getting under the light, it turns yellow and the camera catches a photo. According to the driver’s handbook it is safer to continue through the intersection than to attempt at slamming on brakes, which may cause an actual wreck. This is nothing but a State scam to pad its coffers.

    • Michael

      June 10, 2019 at 10:42 pm

      Um, the camera takes a photo of a violating car when it turns red, hence the term “RED-light camera.”

      • James C. Walker

        June 12, 2019 at 1:56 pm

        Absolutely true, the light is red for at least 0.1 seconds when the camera takes a photo. The racket is yellow intervals deliberately left or set too short for the ACTUAL perception/reaction times and ACTUAL approach speeds of at least 85% of the drivers (safest timing formula). This causes at least 60% and more usually 80% of the tickets to go to safe drivers for violations deliberately caused by the deliberate mis-engineering of the lights with too-short yellows. In a moral world the engineers and officials responsible for the mis-engineering would be prosecuted under RICO statutes for running an ongoing criminal enterprise.
        James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

        • Michael

          June 13, 2019 at 12:51 pm

          @James C. Walker,

          If there are lights were that flaw is present, then it isn’t a problem to correct it. However, that doesn’t mean that the entire system or the concept is flawed. There has to be a deterrent to people running red lights and yellow should not mean “accelerate,” but that is what happens.

          I was once almost killed by a woman running a red arrow.

          • James C. Walker

            June 13, 2019 at 3:06 pm

            The “flaws” are a deliberate part of the business plans of the for-profit camera companies, their for-profit city business partners, and in some states the deliberate for-profit policies of the state governments. The Florida state government gets an $83 “sales commission” on each $158 ticket (52.5% of the gross take) without spending a penny of the high camera costs.

            It is not a mistake the lights are mis-engineered, it is a deliberate, perverse, and necessary part of making the rackets profitable. If red light cameras ticketed only dangerous drivers who increase accident risks, no one would object. But then there would be no red light cameras because they cannot exist financially without ticketing mostly safe drivers.

            James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  6. Dawson Allen

    June 9, 2019 at 9:51 pm

    As I bike to work, I love these cameras and everything else that slows the heavy metal down.

  7. Michael

    June 13, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    @James C. Walker,

    If there are lights were that flaw is present, then it isn’t a problem to correct it. However, that doesn’t mean that the entire system or the concept is flawed. There has to be a deterrent to people running red lights and yellow should not mean “accelerate,” but that is what happens.

    I was once almost killed by a woman running a red arrow.

    • James C. Walker

      June 13, 2019 at 6:45 pm

      The “flaws” are there deliberately with the permission or sometimes even the requirements of the local or state governments to make the rackets more profitable. The NMA works very hard to get the “flaws” corrected and has had some success in VA and CA to get yellow intervals calculated more realistically. But in most states the only way to fix the “flaws” is to get the entire racket banned by law, because the governments involved want or require the “flaws”..
      James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  8. Michael

    June 13, 2019 at 9:58 pm

    I do not subscribe to conspiracy theories.

  9. James C. Walker

    June 14, 2019 at 11:18 am

    Then you (along with many others) do not understand the realities of how red light cameras make profits.

    I attended a city council meeting in a major US city along with representatives of two major ticket camera companies. The cameras are pitched as “free money” with all the risks for the equipment & installation costs falling to the companies. As for-profit enterprises, they will make certain the profits exist.

    We have many examples of violation rates dropping by 50% to 90% when the yellow intervals are made longer by several tenths of a second up to about one whole second longer – and the reductions are permanent.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  10. Michael

    June 15, 2019 at 10:12 pm

    @James Walker.

    As I’ve said, I don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories. I believe in the concept of red-light cameras because they can save lives and calm traffic. If you choose to believe that it’s only a money-making scheme, that’s up to you.

  11. James C. Walker

    June 16, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    And if you choose to believe the cameras are not located where the yellow intervals can be left or set too short for the actual conditions to increase profitability – you may do so. It is a false belief, but you are welcome to keep it. The for-profit camera companies and their for-profit governmental business partners are quite grateful that you do not understand or do not believe how the cameras finances actually work.

    I find such beliefs hard to accept after so many examples of adding about one second to the yellow intervals reducing violations by 60% to 90+%, sometimes to the point the cameras are removed. It makes the yellow interval issue so clear to me and many others, we do not understand why anyone would mis-understand.

    CA and VA mandated more realistic yellow intervals and VA mandated a 0.5 second grace. In both states, if the tickets for slow rolling right on red turns were illegal as they are in Tennessee, most cameras would lose money and almost certainly be removed.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  12. Michael

    June 17, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    @James C. Walker,

    You know what, this morning I was travelling down US 441 and came to an intersection with a camera. I was not right upon the intersection and had time to slow down, but it wasn’t very far either. I was able to slow down and come to an actual stop. Which I means I had to wait about an extra two minutes.

    Of course, many people would have run the yellow because of a culture that dictates that one must get past the traffic light.

    It’s a kind of mental illness that has infected society.