5/3/2011Florida House Votes to Ban Red Light Cameras
Florida House approves bill banning red light cameras and requiring slightly longer yellow times.
Less than a year after the Florida legislature enacted legislation authorizing the use of photo enforcement, the state House of Representatives wants to reverse course. By a 59 to 57 vote yesterday lawmakers approved a bill repealing the provisions of the Mark Wandall Act.
"The unequivocal data that I've seen is that these intersections have become more dangerous not less dangerous with the advent of red light cameras," bill sponsor Representative Richard Corcoran (R-New Port Richey) said. "All the data I've looked at has shown overwhelmingly that these intersections become less safe."
Corcoran cited several studies, including from the Virginia Department of Transportation and the University of South Florida, that showed automated ticketing failed to reduce traffic collisions (view studies). Corcoran was challenged on this point by members of his own party.
"I would ask the sponsor of the bill to verify his data," Representative Rich Glorioso (R-Plant City) said sarcastically.
Glorioso and Representative Shawn Harrison (R-Tampa) each cited alternative figures from a Florida report that they claim proved red light camera use resulted in a dramatic reduction of accidents.
"Are you aware of the National Coalition of Safer Roads study that's floating around on this side of the chamber?" asked Representative Shawn Harrison (R-Tampa). "In Temple Terrace traffic violations have dropped 65 percent since cameras went in two years ago. Accidents dropped sixteen percent."
Glorioso and Harrison neglected to mention that the National Coalition for Safer Roads is not a disinterested, independent organization. Instead, it is a front group for American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the number one provider of red light cameras in Florida. ATS paid Storm King Strategies LLC, a lobbying firm that focuses on the transportation sector, to create the group so that the firm's marketing material would appear to come from an unbiased source.
"I think it's safe to say most of the special interests are opposed to this [legislation]," Corcoran said.
Lawmakers also adopted House Bill 149, legislation that would increase the duration of yellow times at intersections by between 0.2 and 0.3 seconds, on average. It does so by requiring cities to abide by a minimum yellow time standard based on the posted speed limit, plus ten percent. The Institute of Transportation Engineers formula would be used and the result would be rounded up to the nearest half-second. No red light camera tickets could be issued unless the yellow times met these requirements.
Representative Larry Ahern (R-St. Petersburg) originally introduced legislation that would have required to be based on actual 85th percentile speed of traffic, not the speed limit which is usually far less. On average, the original version would have increased yellows by a second, matching the signal times required under the law in Georgia and Ohio.
Both bills will now be considered by state Senate. Red light camera lobbyists have been working overtime to ensure that the upper chamber does not allow these bills to reach the governor's desk. A copy of the repeal legislation is available in a 120k PDF file at the source link below.