A persistent critic of the use of cameras to punish red traffic light violators has new findings to share.
"This is a pattern," Matt Florell told FOX 13 News. "These are people that had some kind of malfunction happen during their citation, their pictures being taken."
Florell was referring to his review of the thousands of citations issued during the first six months traffic signal cameras were operational in St. Petersburg. Vehicles going straight through a red light were clocked at 145, 157, 170, and even 215 miles per hour.
Right turns on red allegedly occurred at speeds of up to 96 miles per hour.
"Clearly, something is wrong if we're getting this many clearly physically impossible errors coming out of the system," the self-described technologist declared.
Florell also noted the St. Petersburg Police Department employs retired officers to review videos of violations before issuing a citation. The department defended the practice of clearing violations for penalties based on whether a particular infraction displayed reckless or imprudent driving.
"It's not a citation for speed, it's a citation strictly for running the red light," spokesman Michael Puetz explained.
As for the speed recorded by magnetic sensors embedded in roadways, "That's just a guideline" Puetz added.
Pinellas County traffic court judge William Overton said the cameras are being legally challenged -- a lot.
"I have, probably, about 150 to 200 cases that are pending appeal," Judge Overton estimated, adding so far it is for a variety of constitutional questions.
After being told about Florell's reservations, the judge said, "anytime you have technology, those issues are going to be challenged," adding, "I have not had any of those specific challenges in front of me -- that [the equipment] was not properly working."
Florell has no intention of lodging such a challenge -- he has yet to receive a red light camera citation. The activist maintains it is not fair to penalize people for infractions captured by what he calls unreliable technology.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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