A bill to freeze the number of red light cameras in Florida, and limit the revenue they can produce, has received its first cautious approval in Tallahassee. But, the way forward may be tough.
The safety record of red light cameras now in use in more than 100 Florida cities and counties may be in dispute, but the money they make is not. The automatic tickets that the cameras generate have been making money at the rate of $100 million a year. At a transportation subcommittee hearing, Miami State Representative Frank Artiles said that's way too much.
"We're trying to take the profiteering from the county and local governments", Artiles said.
In an amendment to a major transportation bill, Artiles is proposing reducing the $158 fines by almost a half. Opponents - those who support the red light camera programs - insist the devices have reduced intersection crashes and made the streets safer, but the data from different sources often disagree. The House's most prominent traffic safety advocate, Representative Irving Schlossberg of Boca Raton, says the fines should be high enough to be painful.
"On the other hands it should be a number that's less than it is right now", Schlossberg said.
Local governments and their police departments insist the cameras are for safety, not money making. And that's a view shared by the chairman of the next committee that will consider the proposal. It clouds the prospects fore Artiles' amendment, which would also prohibit the installation of any more red light cameras.