WDW did a column on red light cameras that are popping up all over the state of Florida. We reported on a study conducted by Barbara Langland-Orban, PhD, John T. Large, PhD, Etienne E. Pracht, PhD from the University of South Florida (USF) on red light cameras in 2008. They updated their study in 2011. Langland-Orban, et. al. found that red light cameras (RLC) increase the number of accidents at intersections by 28%.
The 2008 study found:
“Rather than improving motorist safety, red-light cameras significantly increase crashes and are a ticket to higher auto insurance premiums, researchers at the University of South Florida College of Public Health conclude. The effective remedy to red-light running uses engineering solutions to improve intersection safety, which is particularly important to Florida’s elderly drivers, the researchers recommend.
Instead, they increase crashes and injuries as drivers attempt to abruptly stop at camera intersections. If used in Florida, cameras could potentially create even worse outcomes due to the state’s high percent of elderly who are more likely to be injured or killed when a crash occurs.”
Tampa Bay News Channel 10 did a report on red light cameras. According to 10 News:
“A subtle, but significant tweak to Florida’s rules regarding traffic signals has allowed local cities and counties to shorten yellow light intervals, resulting in millions of dollars in additional red light camera fines.
The 10 News Investigators discovered the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) quietly changed the state’s policy on yellow intervals in 2011, reducing the minimum below federal recommendations. The rule change was followed by engineers, both from FDOT and local municipalities, collaborating to shorten the length of yellow lights at key intersections, specifically those with red light cameras (RLCs).”
10 News reports, “While yellow light times were reduced by mere fractions of a second, research indicates a half-second reduction in the interval can double the number of RLC citations — and the revenue they create.”
The 10 News investigation stemmed from a December discovery of a dangerously short yellow light in Hernando County. After the story aired, the county promised to re-time all of its intersections, and the 10 News Investigators promised to dig into yellow light timing all across Tampa Bay.”
“Red light cameras generated more than $100 million in revenue last year in approximately 70 Florida communities, with 52.5 percent of the revenue going to the state. The rest is divided by cities, counties, and the camera companies. In 2013, the cameras are on pace to generate $120 million,” notes 10 News.
Cities and counties install red light cameras as a “hidden tax” on motorists. RLCs are a new revenue stream for government and those companies that produce RLCs according to the USF study:
Comprehensive studies from North Carolina, Virginia, and Ontario have all reported cameras are significantly associated with increases in crashes, as well as crashes involving injuries. The study by the Virginia Transportation Research Council also found that cameras were linked to increased crash costs.
Some studies that conclude cameras reduced crashes or injuries contained major “research design flaws,” such as incomplete data or inadequate analyses, and were conducted by researchers with links to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS, funded by automobile insurance companies, is the leading advocate for red-light cameras.
The Florida legislature, during the 2013 session, considered HB 4011 which would repeal the use of red light cameras in the state. However, HB 4011 died in the House Appropriations Committee.