Recently, a proposal to charge cities for the use of County equipment to operate red light cameras at various intersections was rejected by the same cities that had originally claimed that public safety was their primary concern, not money. I have publicly stated all along that if safety was the motive, I would support this effort, but clearly this latest action proves my theory true; it’s all about the money!
Red light cameras are bad business for Broward County and I believe that most drivers are prudent and have no intention of ever running a red light. I in no way condone those who break the law. I simply want fairness and common sense to prevail. In 2010, the Florida Legislature enacted the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act which in part authorized cities and counties to install red light cameras at intersections to stop intentional red light runners. We have seen many cities promote this program due to the huge revenue gains from red light runners. Recently, several cities have reconsidered their programs due to revenue projections coming in less than expected.
If we want increased safety and have more eyes on our streets, let’s increase law enforcement in our community. I encourage residents to survey where many of these red light cameras exist. You will find they are placed at certain “high traffic” intersections to produce more revenue adding an additional financial burden to Broward County residents. Furthermore, red light cameras increase rear end collisions by 17 percent.
Many Broward County residents are living off one income or are unemployed. Consider the minimum wage is $7.15 and someone who works 40 hours per week will earn $286 before taxes. The cost of one red light camera ticket is $158. The payment is then sent to the vendor. If the ticket is not paid in 30 days or if an appeal or challenge is not successful, the fine increases to $260 and it becomes a traffic citation. This is a regressive tax on residents and forces people who don’t understand how to defend themselves or who cannot leave work to defend themselves to pay. Why should the Broward County Commission allow a private company to use Broward County taxpayers’ equipment to issue more infractions and make it easier for the private company to put up more cameras? I will always vote no! If this private company could continue to install red light cameras and make money without the County then they would not come before the County Commission to request the use of taxpayers’ equipment. When cities were asked to finance the use of the County equipment, they pulled out of the proposed deal. It appears to me that profit and not protection was at the heart of that decision.
With the many legal challenges that exist with red light cameras, now is the time to refrain from expanding this program and slowly bring it to an end. I will continue voicing opposition to red light cameras because I know the main benefit is no longer safety, but a huge money grab on the poor, middle class, seniors and many residents who are trying to make ends meet in this tough economy.