Florida photo-red camera bill returns

| 10/12/2009

An effort to allow cameras to be posted throughout Florida to nab red-light runners will once again come before state lawmakers. For the seventh straight year, legislation has been offered in the Sunshine State to set statewide standards for red-light cameras.

The cameras snap pictures of red-light runners’ vehicle tags. Tickets are mailed to the vehicles’ owners, regardless of 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 and other concerns.

The previous attempt to require local governments to adopt their own ordinances to put the program in place failed to advance to the governor’s desk despite receiving overwhelming approval in both chambers. During the 2009 regular session, the bill stalled due to House and Senate lawmakers’ inability to reconcile differences in their versions.

The most notable difference of opinion was about how to divvy up ticket revenues.

Hopeful that lawmakers will be able to reach agreement on the issue once they return to the capitol for the 2010 regular session, Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, has prefiled a bill – S294 – that would split the $150 ticket between the cities and counties where the roads are located and the state.

Advocates say the bill is about safety and technology being used in a helpful way. Others point out that some communities in the state already have cameras installed, but many others want the state to set standards before they post their own cameras.

Opponents, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, have questioned the claim that cameras are solely intended to keep people safe. They also say the process denies alleged violators to confront their accusers.

“The motivation of every player in this deal is economics. Whether it’s the local jurisdiction or the manufacturer, that’s not reasonable justification for doing that,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer told Land Line.

Others question the effectiveness of such intersection cameras, arguing they have the potential to distract drivers and cause more fender-bender accidents. In fact, multiple studies have found that crashes actually increased in cities with red-light cameras.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Florida in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.