The Florida Legislature has passed a bill that would make red light cameras legal across the state. Florida Governor Charlie Crist must now decide whether to sign the bill into law.
Red light cameras act as sort of passive law enforcement. These cameras are programmed to automatically activate if a vehicle is in an intersection after a traffic light shows red. Special software reads the tag number of the cars in the intersection and issues traffic tickets to the offending car owner. Some cities and counties across Florida have been using red light cameras for years, however recent court decisions have brought the legality of the practice into question.
As a result, the state of Florida has gotten into the act and created a traffic statute that authorizes the cameras across the state. If Governor Crist signs the bill into law, beginning on July 1st violators will be fined $158.00, with no points or impact on insurance rates. Supporters claim that the measure will save lives and prevent injuries. Drivers who ran red lights allegedly caused 5,607 personal injuries in 2008.
However, it is the revenue stream that makes me wonder what the real motivation behind the movement is. Economists believe that the new law will generate approximately $29 million for the state of Florida this year alone. Similarly, economists believe that local governments will receive $10 million each year.
What do you think? Are red light cameras good safety policy, or primarily a source of revenue?