With all of the national attention on government surveillance into the personal lives of citizens one method is drawing fire from citizens – the use of red light cameras. Citizens of Melbourne, FL are now expressing outrage at the City Council of Melbourne’s plan to install red light cameras.
Barbara Langland-Orban, PhD, John T. Large, PhD, Etienne E. Pracht, PhD from the University of South Florida (USF) conducted a study 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%. WDW – FL reported on red light cameras here and here.
Scott Ellis, a resident of Melbourne, in an email to WDW – FL states, “There is no safety to this issue at all. I have been driving the intersection of US 1 and Eau Gallie Boulevard for 40 years and never seen an accident, as well as hundreds of hours of campaigning at the intersection. But rather than rely on analogy, I requested the study performed by the City of Melbourne used to justify the Red light cameras. In the city study there is NOT ONE MENTION of accident statistics for this intersection. NOTHING. This is supposedly all about safety yet no accident data is part of the study?” [Emphasis added]
The subject line of Scott’s email is, “Government Camera Looters Coming to Eau Gallie.”
Scott wrote, “This is all about the money. If it was about safety the accident records would be a factor. It is all about revenue and traffic count, US 1 and Eau Gallie Boulevard being one of the highest traffic counts in the entire county. The City Manager’s comments are so ludicrous one must question his sanity in believing the general public is as gullible as the City Council. However, let’s take him at his word and have the City of Melbourne donate their $75 skim of every ticket to various charities around the city.” The USF study seems to bear Scott’s concerns out.
The Melbourne red light camera ticket fine of $158. The receiver gets 60 days to pay from date of infraction, not date infraction notification is received. The new law specifies if the receiver requests a hearing the hearing officer is a City of Melbourne appointed special master. If the ticket is not paid by mail to the city. The City turns the red light ticket into a regular Uniform Traffic Citation (UTC) and fine increases to $267.
A brochure was mailed out by Melbourne residents. It is similar to brochures used in Edgewood, FL, and Moline, Iowa. Residents noted that the brochure is the same as one provided by Gatso USA the camera vendor.
Cities and counties look at red light cameras as revenue generators. However, some are seeing revenues fall.
Robert Napper from the Tampa Bay Times reported, “The number of tickets generated by the [New Port Richey] city’s red light cameras has dropped dramatically, along with the number of crashes at some of those intersections. That’s the good news, city finance director Doug Haag told the City Council last week. The bad news, he said, is that the city faces an $800,000 shortfall this year in red light ticket revenue.
Napper found, “The city had expected the cameras, installed in July 2011, to generate $1.15 million this year. So far, the city has collected $162,189, and officials expect to finish the fiscal year with just $350,000 in ticket revenue — a 70 percent shortfall. ‘That’s the big elephant,’ Haag said.”
Scott included a letter from an unnamed visitor to Florida subject – “Who won’t be back anytime soon”:
To whom it may concern,
My name is X and I received a letter from a collection agency called Municipal Services Bureau (MSB). It is a collection letter on a traffic infraction ticket for $396.20 in Brevard County I am verifying that this letter isn’t a scam and if not to figure on how/why I got a ticket. It confused me that the offense was supposed to happen in Florida but the letter is coming from Texas. I was in Port Canaveral area in August of 2012 on a business trip with the military during the time frame of a hurricane in the area.
I had a rental car. I never got pulled over or came in contact with any policemen to receive a ticket. If you could please provide me information on this or information who could answers these question.
Stay tuned, more government surveillance coming to a town near you!