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State Bills To Ban Red-Light Cameras Advance

St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes

Legislation on the move in the Florida Legislature could ban the use of red-light cameras and the millions in revenue they generate for local governments.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, would outlaw the ticketing cameras starting in 2019.

At a Senate Transportation Committee meeting, Brandes said the program only serves to line the pockets of local governments.

He also pointed to a recent study by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles that found that rear-end crashes increased by 37 percent and overall accidents increased by 17 percent at intersections with red-light cameras.

"So we have a program that not only is a backdoor tax increase on some of the citizens who can least afford to pay it, but it's also making intersections less safe,” Brandes said.

Opponents say legislators should not rely on just one data set from the state to make a decision to remove the cameras statewide.

Charles Territo is a spokesman for American Traffic Solutions, Inc., a company that operates the red-light cameras in about 50 communities in Florida.

Responding to the criticism that the cameras are a hidden tax, Territo says the solution is simple: Don’t run a red light.

“The use of cameras to help reduce the number of injuries, collisions and fatalities is an important tool for law enforcement," he said.

The Senate bill has two more committee stops before a floor vote.

A companion bill in the House, introduced by Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, and Rep. Kristin Jacobs, D-Coconut Creek, has to clear only one more committee before going to a floor vote.

Roberto Roldan is a senior at the University of South Florida pursuing a degree in mass communications and a minor in international studies.
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