Overturning the Progress of Red Light Cameras in Florida

The state of Florida’s House Economics Committee voted in favor of beginning the process of taking away the right of local counties and cities to use cameras to catch drivers running red lights. Each year, critics and supporters of the controversial red light traffic signal cameras argue over the use of the cameras to collect fines and reduce the number of traffic accidents in Florida. Local government’s currently have the right to collect fines of $158 per traffic offense using video as evidence of an offense being committed.

Supporters of the use of the cameras claim studies and evidence from counties and cities using the cameras show traffic accidents are reduced when red light cameras are installed at intersections. Critics of the cameras claim in response that public safety is not improved enough to permit the invasion of privacy thought to be committed by installing red light cameras; many critics also believe the cameras are used to impose fines too large for the violation committed and are only placed to make money for governments.

State laws regarding Red light cameras were first passed in 2010 in an effort to divert some of the large profits made from the fines to state governments after a number of counties and cities had already introduced the cameras. The first major city in Florida to introduce the cameras was Orlando, whose officials claim have seen a large drop in auto accidents at some of the city’s busiest intersections. Orlando officials also claim they have issued around $9.1 million in fines since introducing the cameras in 2010.

The House Economic Affairs Committee voted 10-8 to pass the first stage of the bill to ban the cameras, which are now used in 71 cities and counties across the state. The Bill passed its first obstacle despite opposition from police and local government officials who support the use of the red light cameras as an important tool in maintaining public safety.