Red light cameras: A tale of two sides - FOX 13 News

Red light cameras: A tale of two sides

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

It's been a year since red light cameras started snapping shots of drivers rushing through red lights

In St. Petersburg, the city now has some cold, hard facts in just how effective they've been at making the roads safer. However, some people say they're just as confused as ever.

The data could influence city council's decision to renew the red light program and whether to add nine proposed cameras around St. Pete.

If you compare year to year, it appears the total red light crashes went up from 298 to 328.

If you look at the big picture, the five year average shows a significant decrease.

City council is getting a crash course in how to interpret crash data.

"We've really tried to make it clear so we've isolated the camera issue, the red light running issue, with accidents," said transportation director Joe Kubicki.

New numbers in a one year review of all 10 red light cameras in St. Peter show success.

Red light crashes are down by 25 percent when compared with the five year average.

"The data supports it," said Mayor Bill Foster.

However, the total number of crashes blamed on running a red light tells another story.

"Data that shows that the crashes are up by 10 percent does not lend credence to the fact that we want to put nine more cameras in in a year," said council member Wengay Newton.

It could be comparing apples to oranges. Consider what's causing the crashes.

"The majority of accidents at our intersections are caused by other reasons other than people running red lights. Typically, it's distracted driving," Kubicki said.

Deciding which stat to support will be crucial when St. Petersburg city council votes to renew the city's red light camera program next week.

It's also discussing expanding the program. Drivers' opinions on that expansion are run in the middle of the road.

"I've seen too many cars go flying through lights, and if somebody had been there they would have been gone so I'd like to see them anywhere," said Steve Miller.

"I'm a pretty safe driver; I'm a truck driver, so I have to abide by the rules. It wouldn't matter to me," said Darren Mustin.

"I think more studies need to be done on whether it cuts down on more crashes, but I'm optimistic," said Sarah Steoter

The report tells us a lot of other facts about year one with cameras.

For example, most citations are out of town drivers - 64 percent. Almost all of them, 92 percent, are one time offenders. They don't run the light again.

The grand total is 36,185 violations in the first year of usage on the city's fleet of cameras.

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