Florida cities install red-light cameras to prevent accidents

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety revealed results last week from a study that analyzed the impact red-light cameras had on the number of accidents that occurred at busy intersections. The study was conducted from 2004 through 2008 in 14 of some of the nation’s largest cities. Each city installed a number of red-light enforcement cameras at intersections to track if the presence of the cameras would reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers running red lights. According to the Insurance Institute, there was a 20 percent decrease in serious accidents caused by someone running a red light.

Red-light enforcement cameras record images of vehicles that run through red lights at intersections. The license plate is recorded and the owner of the vehicle is issued a ticket for the offense. The purpose of installing the cameras is to discourage people from driving through red lights and potentially causing a serious accident. Some of the most dangerous accidents such as head-on collisions and T-bone crashes occur when one vehicle runs through a red light, and these accidents can result in serious injuries or death.

Several Florida cities have already installed or have been considering installing the cameras to help prevent serious accidents from occurring on Florida roads. Green Cove Springs has installed the cameras at two intersections along U.S. 17 and plan to install one at another intersection. Each camera costs $4,750, but the city hopes to send a message that running through red lights is dangerous, and there will be penalties for doing so even when an officer is not present for the offense. Jacksonville and Orange Park also plan to install the cameras very soon.

Fines for running a red-light at the intersections will cost $158, not including court costs and processing fees. Although the owner of the vehicle will be charged with a fine, the citation will not go on their driver’s record or increase the driver’s auto insurance. According to a bill passed in 2009 by Florida lawmakers, the red-light cameras are allowed to be installed on federal and state roads.

Although data does suggest that the cameras help reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers running red lights, some do oppose the installation of the cameras in Florida. Some argue that the system is flawed because the owner of the vehicle may not be the person driving the car at the time of the offense. Even if the owner wasn’t driving the vehicle, the owner will receive the citation in his or name. Florida authorities do assure car owners that they do have the right to fight the ticket in court if they believe there was a mistake in the citation.

Personal injury attorneys in Florida see this as a step in the right direction. Accidents occur every day on our busy roads, but many serious accidents can easily be prevented. Accidents caused by drivers running red lights could be fatal. A pedestrian crossing the street could be hit and killed, or another vehicle could be struck head-on by a speeding car attempting to make it through the light. If drivers are aware that they could be issued a ticket even without the presence of an officer, they may think twice about running through a red light.

Sources:The Florida Times-Union: “Green Cove Springs beats Jacksonville in the rush to install red-light cameras,” Larry Hannan, 6 Feb. 2011
The Washington Post: “Red-light cameras get results,” 5 Feb. 2011