Orange County Red Light Expansion Through Skepticism

A few months ago, we explored the possibility that red light cameras were being questioned for their constitutional merit. Lawyers in central Florida have been aggressively fighting, and winning, red light camera violations consistently since they were first commissioned. Most of these cameras were snapping pictures of cars supposedly passing through red lights, regardless of legitimate right hand turns and other situations where the automatic, programmed judgment of a camera may pass. It seemed as though the effectiveness of these devices was dwindling.

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But according to a new report by the Orlando Sentinel, these cameras are becoming more sophisticated. Many are recording videos, taking multiple photos, providing in-depth information, and are even utilizing laser technology. Their goal is to improve the safety of the roads according to Orange County officials, which is the opposite of the original notion of simply being a revenue stream for local government struggling with their finances.

In Orange Country, leaders have decided that 40 new red-light cameras will be installed around the region’s most dangerous driving intersections, most likely towards the end of the year. These regions will include cities such as Orlando, Apopka, Casselberry, and other areas where tickets are commonly distributed. If this goes well, according to them, another 40 will be installed the following year. $2.3 million has been collected from the over 20,000 tickets issued since about 18 months ago.

When the program began in some cities in 2008, Orange County first questioned the legality of the cameras. State laws were eventually changed in 2010, and the implementation of red-light cameras began to dramatically increase.

There is still heavy debate between critics and city officials about whether this campaign is an expansion of a revenue generating strategy or a movement to ultimately reduce car accidents in notoriously busy intersections. There is no question that central Florida is afflicted by a very high number of car and pedestrian accidents. Though government officials truly seem to be making genuine strides to improve the safety of drivers in Orange Country, revenues and costs are top of mind in regards to operating costs, pedestrian-safety measures, and having to shell out cash from the operation to Tallahassee. We should brace ourselves for the possibility of far more traffic violations in Orlando, Winter Park, Altamonte Springs, and other cities all over central Florida.