[tabi] new bill is a threat to pedestrian safety

  • From: "Chip and Allie Orange" <acorange@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2015 19:58:37 -0400

I really hope everyone will right their senators and representatives to
remind them that these cameras also greatly increase pedestrian safety, but
especially amongst blind pedestrians, who often have accidents with those
turning right on red without looking.

 

 

From a recent article in the Democrat:

 

Bill would ban camera violations for right on red

Jeff Burlew, Tallahassee Democrat 

12:01 a.m. EDT March 12, 2015 

 

A bill that would bring changes to red-light-camera programs in Tallahassee
and elsewhere in Florida easily passed a House panel vote on Wednesday. 

The House Highway and Waterway Safety Committee voted 12-1 in favor of the
bill, which would prohibit local governments from issuing notices of
violation to drivers who make right-on-red turns at monitored intersections.


The bill also would require local governments to use proceeds from their
red-light programs for public safety; many cities, including Tallahassee,
use the money for general revenue. Another provision would force cities that
don't comply with state reporting requirements to suspend their programs
until they do. 

"What the (bill) intended to do is put parameters in place where we make the
program more accountable, make it more transparent and try to make it more
efficient," said Rep. Bryan Avila, R-Hialeah, who introduced the committee
bill (PCB HWSS 15-05). 

Avila said prohibiting violations for right-on-red turns would focus
red-light camera programs on a bigger problem, high-speed crashes. But the
Florida League of Cities and the Florida Police Chiefs Association expressed
concern about the provision, saying language in the bill could undermine the
ability of law-enforcement officers to write tickets to drivers who make
illegal right turns at red lights. 

"We are concerned that this bill will prohibit police officers as well as
red-light cameras from writing a ticket for not stopping at a red light,"
said Stephan 

Dembinsky

, police chief in 

Daytona

Beach Shores. "We are very concerned about the fact that there are
intersections where it says 'no turn on red,' and now what happens? Can cars
still go through that red light?" 

Avila said, however, that the bill would in no way impede an officer's
ability to issue a citation, whether it be at a monitored intersection or
not. 

In 2010, the Legislature passed a law allowing cities and counties to
install red-light cameras and provided fines of $158 for drivers who blow
through monitored intersections. Under the law, local governments keep $75
from each violation, with the rest going to the state. In fiscal year 2014,
the state collected $55.2 million from the program, with most of the money
going into its general fund. 

The city of Tallahassee launched its red-light program in July 2010, though
it didn't start issuing notices of violation until the following month.
Since then, the city has installed 19 cameras at seven busy intersections.
City officials said the purpose of the program was to increase public
safety, though critics derided it as a cash grab. 

The city over time has received the smallest portion of proceeds from the
program. City records show that as of December 2013, red-light cameras
generated $6.3 million in fines, with $3 million going to the state, $2.8
million going to the camera vendor, Affiliated Computer Services, Inc., and
less than $500,000 going to the city's general fund. 

The number of violations issued by the city dropped dramatically - nearly 60
percent - over the past four years. The city issued 20,122 violations in the
2011 fiscal year but only 8,097 last fiscal year, according to city records.
City officials have said the declining number shows the program is working
and drivers are changing their behavior and stopping at red lights. 

Avila, citing a survey by the Office of Policy Analysis & Governmental
Accountability, said only 14 percent of local governments use proceeds from
red-light cameras for public safety. Under the bill, proceeds would have to
be used for public safety, which could include new officers, equipment and
the camera programs themselves. 

"When you have local governments devoting 14, 15 percent of those funds to
public safety and the majority of it going to general revenue, that's
defeating the purpose of what we're trying to do," he said. "If we're going
to focus on public safety, then let's make sure we put the resources where
they belong." 

 

4:35 p.m. update 

A bill that would bring changes to red-light-camera programs in Tallahassee
and elsewhere in Florida easily passed a House panel vote on Wednesday. 

The House Highway and Waterway Safety Committee voted 12-1 in favor of the
bill, which would prohibit local governments from issuing notices of
violation to drivers who make right-on-red turns at monitored intersections.


The bill also would require local governments to use proceeds from their
red-light programs for public safety - many cities, including Tallahassee,
use the money for general revenue. Another provision would force cities that
don't comply with state reporting requirements to suspend their programs
until they do. 

"What the (bill) in intended to do is put parameters in place where we make
the program more accountable, make it more transparent and try to make it
more efficient," said Rep. Bryan Avila, R-Hialeah, who introduced the
committee bill (PCB HWSS 15-05). 

Avila said prohibiting violations for right-on-red turns would focus
red-light camera programs on a bigger problem, high-speed crashes. But the
Florida League of Cities and the Florida Police Chiefs Association expressed
concern about the provision, saying language in the bill could undermine the
ability of law-enforcement officers to write tickets to drivers who make
illegal right turns at red lights. 

"We are concerned that this bill will prohibit police officers as well as
red-light cameras from writing a ticket for not stopping at a red light,"
said Stephan 

Dembinsky

, police chief in 

Daytona

Beach Shores. "We are very concerned about the fact that there are
intersections where it says no turn on red, and now what happens? Can cars
still go through that red light?" 

Avila said, however, that the bill would in no way impede an officer's
ability to issue a citation, whether it be at a monitored intersection or
not. 

In 2010, the Legislature passed a law allowing cities and counties to
install red-light cameras and provided fines of $158 for drivers who blow
through monitored intersections. Under the law, local governments keep $75
from each violation, with the rest going to the state. 

The city of Tallahassee launched its red-light program in July 2010, though
it didn't start issuing notices of violation until the following month.
Since then, the city has installed 19 cameras at seven busy intersections.
City officials said the purpose of the program was to increase public
safety, though critics derided it as a cash grab. 

The city over time has received the smallest portion of proceeds from the
program. According to the most recent figures available, from December 2013,
red-light cameras generated $6.3 million in fines, with $3 million going to
the state, $2.8 million going to the camera vendor, Affiliated Computer
Services, Inc., and less than $500,000 going to the city's general fund. 

The number of violations issued by the city dropped dramatically - nearly 60
percent - over the past four years. The city issued 20,122 violations in the
2011 fiscal year but only 8,097 last fiscal year, according to city records.
City officials have said the declining number shows the program is working
and drivers are changing their behavior and stopping at red lights. 

Avila, citing a survey by the Office of Policy Analysis & Governmental
Accountability, said only 14 percent of local governments use proceeds from
red-light cameras for public safety. Under the bill, proceeds would have to
be used for public safety, which could include new officers, equipment and
the camera programs themselves. 

"When you have local governments devoting 14, 15 percent of those funds to
public safety and the majority of it going to general revenue, that's
defeating the purpose of what we're trying to do," he said. "If we're going
to focus on public safety, then let's make sure we put the resources where
they belong." 

12:35 p.m. update 

The House Highway and Waterway Safety Committee today in a near-unanimous
vote signed off of a bill that would prohibit cities and counties with
red-light cameras from issuing violations when drivers make a right turn on
red. 

The bill also would require proceeds from red-light programs to go toward
public safety rather than general revenue and would impose penalties on
local governments that don't prepare annual reports on their programs to the
state. Cities that don't prepare the reports would have to suspend their
programs. 

Rep. Bryan Avila, R-

Hialeah, introduced the committee bill, saying he hoped to make the
statewide red-light program more accountable, transparent and efficient.
Lawmakers in 2010 passed a law allowing cities and counties to install
red-light  cameras, with the revenue going to the state, the local
governments and vendors.

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  • » [tabi] new bill is a threat to pedestrian safety - Chip and Allie Orange