Jury Still Out on Red-Light, Speed Cameras: Safer Roads or Just Cash Cow?


Florida drivers caught by red-light cameras paid $100 million in traffic fines last year. Whether the cameras made Florida's roads safer—or just swelled state and city coffers—is an open question, reports Stateline. “Three years ago, these red-light cameras were pitched as safety devices,” said state Sen. Jeff Brandes, who has proposed a state ban on the cameras. “Instead, they've been a backdoor tax increase.” A 2012 audit in St. Petersburg showed the number of dangerous side-impact collisions did decrease at intersections with red-light cameras, but rear-end collisions increased at those intersections as more drivers stopped short to avoid violations.

Communities in 24 states and the District of Columbia have at least one red-light camera, says the Governors Highway Safety Association. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety counted more than 500 communities with the cameras. In a 2011 poll conducted by the insurance institute, two-thirds of drivers in 14 big cities with cameras expressed support for them. Cameras that catch drivers who violate red-light laws are far more popular than cameras that catch speeders. Only eight states and the District of Columbia use speeding cameras, and a dozen states have banned them.

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