Red light cameras have been utilized in the United States, and around the world, since the 1990’s, so when Florida approved their state-wide use in 2010, it wasn’t a shocking development. However, the debate over red-light cameras was already well underway by then, and the Mark Wendell Traffic Safety Act, which allowed municipalities to place red light cameras on any state-owned road, still received a substantial amount of pushback.
Original Arguments Regarding Red Light Cameras
The Florida governor, the state legislature, a number of municipalities, such as Miami and Orlando, and certain interest groups argued that red light cameras would reduce the number of car accidents in Florida and increase road safety. The opposition posited that the cameras were an invasion of privacy, an improper use of a private, third-party to perform government functions and only served the purpose of making money.
The state government was successful in passing the 2010 law, and since then red light cameras have been prevalent in urban parts of the state, including in most municipalities. But their popularity among citizens has never increased. Over 17 years later, and these same debates are playing out in municipal offices and county commissioner meetings.
Florida lawmakers are once again taking up the question of red light cameras, as many people are still questioning the camera’s effectiveness. What most want to know is whether these cameras have proven to be effective at reducing the number of car accidents in Florida since their widespread installation 17 years ago.
Recent Updates on Florida Road Safety
The recent reports on Florida road safety and accidents don’t throw a positive light on red light cameras; in fact, the statistics have the opposite impact. In December 2016, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles released the results of a study covering 148 different intersections, in 28 different cities. For nearly four years the Department collected data on these intersections and found that the number of accidents actually increased.
After cameras were installed in these locations, the number of accidents rose over 10%, and these numbers were similar across several categories of accidents and incidents. For example, the number of rear-end crashes went up roughly 11.4% and angle crashes increased 6.7%. There was a rise in the number of accidents that resulted in injury or serious injury. Other reports have found similar results and conclusions in other states.
However, the 2016 report does show one exceptional decrease – the number of accidents involving pedestrians, cyclists, and non-motorists decreased by over 19.6%.
While this report, and others looking at similar statistics in different locations, may appear to indicate a correlation between installing red light cameras and increased accidents, that isn’t definitive. However, what these reports do seem to confirm is red light cameras aren’t decreasing the number of accidents, as they were once promised to do.
Uncertainty Over the Future of Red Light Cameras
Throughout 2017 more Florida municipalities have moved away from the use of red light cameras or suspended their plans to install new cameras. For example, in south Florida, cameras were set for installation in the unincorporated parts of Miami-Dade County, but that will no longer happen. Across the state, the number of red light cameras in use dropped to 108, from a high point of 688.
While many municipalities are organically moving away from installation and use of red light cameras, they may receive a giant nudge from the Florida Supreme Court in February 2018. The highest court in the state is set to hear arguments on how the cameras operate and the methods for issuing tickets at that time. The decision could effectively make it illegal to operate red light cameras in the state.
Accidents on Florida Roads
The attorneys at Aronfeld Trial Lawyers are supportive of any measures or means in the State of Florida that will make our roads safer. However, when car accidents in Florida do occur, we are here to help. Whether a red light camera caused or affected your Florida car accident, or you were injured because of another driver’s reckless behavior, the knowledgeable accident attorneys at Aronfeld Trial Lawyers are ready to discuss our case. You can call our Miami office at 1-866-597-4529 or (305)-441-0440, or contact us electronically at [email protected] or via SKYPE.