Brakes applied to Florida photo-red bill

| Friday, May 18, 2007

For the fourth straight year, an effort has died in the Florida Legislature that would have allowed cameras to be posted throughout the state to nab red light runners.

The cameras snap pictures of red-light runners’ vehicle tags. Tickets are mailed to the vehicles’ owners, regardless who was driving at the time. Florida law neither permits nor forbids the use of red-light cameras to fine violators, but governments have been reluctant to post them because of privacy issues and other concerns.

The latest attempt to allow cities and counties to install the cameras at intersections remained in committee when the session ended, effectively killing it for the year. Vehicle owners would have faced $125 fines.

Opponents said they are apprehensive about the cameras being the beginning of a trip down a slippery slope on which police could use the cameras to photograph drivers and monitor the movements of citizens.

Advocates said the bill is about safety and using technology in a helpful way. They point out that in 2005 red-light runners were linked to 100 deaths and 9,000 crashes in Florida.

The issue can be brought up for consideration again during the regular session that begins early next year.

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