Red light cameras have caused quite the controversy ever since they were first installed across Florida just a few years ago. Now, a St. Pete-based state lawmaker is calling on the Legislature to repeal the state's red light camera law.
They stand sky-high above busy intersections, poised to snap drivers in the act of breezing through lights instead of braking. But State Senator Jeff Brandes says red lights camera programs are really driven by dollar signs.
"We have small communities, some that are small as 2,500 citizens that have written over 10,000 tickets. It's a huge portion of these small communities' budgets, and there's really a large incentive for them to grow their programs," Brandes said Wednesday.
He's now filed Senate Bill 144, calling on the state to repeal it's red light camera law. He thinks this stab at the statute will pass.
"As these programs mature, more examples of egregious violations by municipalities pop up," Brandes said.
MAP: Tampa Bay area red-light cameras
Some drivers agree, saying the cameras cause more accidents than they prevent.
"I've caught myself slamming on the brake to try and not go over the white line," said Samantha Berg of St. Petersburg.
Still, surveillance footage from some St. Pete lights shows there are daring drivers out there. Some say having the lights acts as a deterrent.
"It keeps people in check. You think about it, because you know when you get to the intersections there's going to be a light there. I think it creates an urgency to be careful when you pull up to the lights," St. Petersburg driver Sheila Brackens said.
While stats on the cameras' effectiveness are gray, Brandes says cities' motivation is green.
"I think it's a back-door tax increase. I think municipalities are not being honest with their constituents when they have huge budget gaps that they're filling with red light camera revenue," Brandes said.
Brandes says he just filed the bill in the Senate and a companion bill will also be filed in the State House of Representatives. The Legislature will take a look at it when they reconvene in March.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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