[tabi] traffic light cameras in tally

  • From: "Easy Talk" <easytalk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 31 Jul 2011 08:42:45 -0400

Thought some of you might find this interesting.

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Sun, Jul 31, 2011  |  Updated: 8:24 AM
17,001 red-light camera citations issued in Tallahassee
By TaMaryn Waters Democrat Staff Writer
July 31, 2011
A year after Tallahassee began enforcing red-light traffic violations with 
cameras
it's got six intersections covered by 17 cameras and has issued 17,001 red-light
camera citations through Friday.
The first camera went live a year ago today at Monroe and Tennessee streets. 
Flickering
flashes from red-light cameras also have snapped government vehicles including 
several
StarMetro buses, city work vehicles and Leon County Superintendent Jackie Pons 
in
a district vehicle.
Despite growing controversy regarding the cameras statewide, Tallahassee 
officials
say they help make roads safer.
They have not been welcomed by all residents.
According to the Leon County Clerk's Office, there were 148 motion hearings to 
contest
citations in court.
George Youmas, 37, a truck driver with Crowder Construction, said a $158 
citation
for his vehicle was mailed to a wrong address and the 30-day period to pay for 
it
expired. That put his commercial-driver license in jeopardy. He was granted a 
60-day
extension to pay it at a hearing Wednesday.
Youmas said he wasn't driving the vehicle -- a legal difficulty with the 
citations
issued to the registered owner of vehicles caught on cameras -- but Youmas said 
he'd
devoted too much time already tending to the issue and will pay it.
"It's ridiculous," he said once the brief hearing was over. "It's totally 
ridiculous."
The city has generated $878,022 since mid July from the citations. That's just 
the
city's share, though, in a split that includes the state and the contractor 
hired
to manage the system. The state got $875,318 through July 14 and the city's 
Virginia-based
vendor, ACS State and Local Solutions, got $436,928.
Michelle Bono, assistant to the city manager, said the cameras have helped 
change
driving behavior for the better.
"A lot of people would see yellow and sometimes yellow meant speed up to get 
through
the intersection," Bono said. "I think a lot of people, including myself, see 
yellow
and say slow down . . . . So why not just be a safer driver?"
NO RIGHT ON RED
Camera images from three approaches at Monroe and Tennessee streets have 
produced
5,009 citations since mid-July -- the most of the six intersections.
The cameras at Capital Circle Northwest and Tennessee Street have sparked 
frustration
among drivers.
Many drivers stop at the no-turn-on-red westbound lane of Tennessee in 
preparation
to turning north onto Capital Circle. But they didn't stay behind the stop bar 
marked
on the street. Moving beyond the stop bar at the edge of Capital Circle triggers
a citation.
Despite signs indicating no-turn-on-red and another one regarding the stop bar, 
the
westbound approach had 700 citations in June, the most for any single approach 
in
one month since the program began.
"It appears motorists who are going through there are treating it as a yield 
condition,"
said Allen Secreast, traffic mobility manager for the city.
He said the Florida Department of Transportation prohibited right turns on red 
lights
at the approach because of the high volume of traffic going through the 
intersection,
including trucks.
Officials noticed the intersection's high numbers when 147 citations in December
jumped to 659 in January. The city soon ran a public campaign to make drivers 
more
aware of the stop bar. However, Bono said she couldn't explain June's numbers.
Greg Womble, 61, got a citation at the intersection in February. He rolled past 
the
stop bar.
"I don't really have a problem with the red-light camera program in general. 
What
I had a problem with was with my particular case and with the design of the 
intersection,"
he said. "I got caught in no-man's land."
Some residents are taking their chances in court.
Of the 148 motion hearings, 81 were granted and 21 were denied. The rest are 
still
pending.
STATEWIDE
The state has generated an estimated $19 million from more than 40 
municipalities,
according to the Florida Department of Revenue.
But some cities are rethinking the cameras. Davie officials cited legal 
challenges
and costs of running the program as reasons to reconsider, according to 
published
reports.
Red-light cameras are not leaving Tallahassee any time soon. The city is 
considering
additional camera placements based on crash statistics.
GOVERNMENT VEHICLES
While residents were caught by red-light cameras, so were vehicles owned by the 
city,
Leon County and Leon County Schools.
Specific Leon County vehicle red-light citations were not available. But the 
city
had 16 citations between Aug. 1, 2010, and July 15. Most were StarMetro buses 
and
Dial-A-Ride vans. When a citation occurs, the city pays for it first and the 
employee
who committed the violation must reimburse the city.
StarMetro Executive Director Ron Garrison said he was surprised 10 of the city's
citations were made by his employees but he said the volume of bus operation in 
the
city should be considered, too.
He said he would remind his staff to obey traffic signals and about the cameras.
"It is a safety thing," he said.
Leon County Schools vehicles had three citations, one of which was issued to 
Superintendent
Jackie Pons.
Pons was issued a citation at Capital Circle Northwest and Tennessee Street and 
says
he didn't run a red light. However, like many violators at that intersection, he
stopped his district vehicle beyond the stop bar.
"I didn't realize I had a violation until we got contacted," said Pons, who paid
the citation and didn't make a fuss. "They got me for passing the point."

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