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Florida Considers Red Light Camera Reform
Florida House subcommittee endorses limitation on right turn on red photo ticketing.

Representative Bryan Avila
As the tide continues to turn against red light cameras nationwide, Florida lawmakers are considering scaling back their statewide program. The Highway and Waterway Safety Subcommittee last Wednesday approved a measure that would ban automated ticketing of rolling right turns on red and address a handful of minor concerns.

"I don't think any of us are going to try to do away with the program right now," the bill's sponsor, state Representative Bryan Avila (R-Hialeah), explained. "That's not what the proposed committee bill is intended to do. What the PCB is intended to do is get to a place where we make the program, more accountable, more transparent and more efficient."

Existing law prohibits the issuance of photo tickets to vehicles that make a right turn on red in a "careful and prudent manner." Many local jurisdictions continue to generate the majority of citations from rolling rights, even though data from federal agencies (view report) and the city of Los Angeles, California (view report) show rolling right hand turns rarely cause accidents.

The other major provision of Avila's bill requires that the revenue from photo ticketing be devoted to "public safety" initiatives.

"That's kinda like, cloudy," state Representative Irv Slosberg (D-Boca Raton) observed. "I'd like to specifically know what does that mean, 'public safety purpose?'"

Slosberg proposed to clarify with an amendment that would state that the profit could be devoted to driver's education, but the subcommittee rejected the change.

Avila's measure requires the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to generate an annual crash statistics report for photo enforced intersections. It also adds an enforcement provision to the existing statute that tells localities that they lose the ability to issue photo tickets if they fail to submit the required report.

"There have been cases where local governments have not submitted the report, and yet the program has kept on going," Avila said. "The problem with that is FDOT and the legislature aren't receiving the data that we need in order to fully analyze and to come to a conclusion about whether red light cameras do in fact increase public safety, or whether they don't."

Lobbyists for cities and counties objected that they did not want the state telling them what they could do with their money. State Representative Dave Kerner (D-Lake Worth) took issue with their argument.

"Folks, members, this is over half a billion dollars of our constituents' money that was paid as a fine... This is not the cities' money. This is not tax revenue, this is not impact fees, this is not designed to sustain a level of government. So when you tell me you don't like being told what to do with 'our money,' -- it's not your money. It's my constituents' money."

A copy of the bill is available in a PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File PCB 15-05 (Florida Legislature, 3/11/2015)

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