Bills that would have provided that Florida residents get treated a little more fairly by the red light camera program were gutted recently by the Florida legislature. This is more than sad. It is disgraceful - particularly because the gutting was done by a group of legislators from both the Democrat and Republican parties. Essentially members of both parties have sold out so that out-of-state companies - whose product claims and tactics are more than exaggerated, they are down right fraudulent - can continue to steal from the legislators' constituents. And the legislators who gutted the bills last week know it. Or should have known it. The evidence is clear and convincing - red light cameras don't improve safety. Every competent, objective study conducted over the past 15 years demonstrates this. The pro-camera Florida legislators are particularly lazy, or worse, given they didn't have to go very far to avail themselves of some of the best research on the subject - done by the folks at the University of South Florida.
New Jersey was the first state in the nation to have experimented with, and then thrown out, cameras completely. I'm proud to have been at the forefront of that effort. Over several years of our experiment we methodically tore apart the arguments of the camera proponents. We outlined the flaws in the studies defending them - including New Jersey's own seriously flawed study - and made the unequivocal case that cameras don't improve safety. They simply enable the companies that operate them, the municipalities that host them and the legislators that defend them to enrich themselves by stealing from the very people they claim to be protecting. Even if one tortures a way to suggest some marginal reduction in accidents, the benefit claims fall apart again when the costs involved in the programs are factored in.
Additionally, we know cameras are ineffective from decades of data collected throughout the US and Europe. If you watch the videos of people causing major accidents at intersections virtually all of them are not caused by scofflaws choosing to blindly run red lights - they are you or me on a bad day after a fight with our spouse or screaming kid in the back seat or worried about our jobs - and tragically simply unaware the light has changed. If the prospect of death isn't enough to stop someone from absent-mindedly running through a red light, then an $85 or $140 - or $5000 - fine isn't going to either.
Additionally, if you increase yellow light times at these supposedly hazardous intersections - as has been done with uniformly successful results in many states and municipalities - you reduce red light running infractions more dramatically than cameras do.
The legislators who gutted the legislation should be thrown out of office. Republican, Democrat - doesn't matter. One cannot be intelligent, competent and diligent and still support this blatant ripoff of motorists. The residents of Florida have a right to demand better of their representatives.
I hereby challenge the Florida pro-camera legislators to a debate regarding the effectiveness and economics of the cameras. The debate would be before a randomly chosen group of Florida residents and moderated by a mutually agreeable media outlet. The audience will get to vote after we've made our case. If I win, the legislators who have agreed to participate - a group which together would swing the vote against the cameras - would immediately sponsor legislation to end the program. If I lose, I will donate $100 to each of the participating legislators campaigns and $5,000 to the charity of the group's choice. Bet my phone doesn't ring.
Here are links to studies supporting our claims on Red Light Cameras:
University of South Florida Study:
USF follow-up to their study, taking aim at the Insurance Institute's claims: http://www.baynews9.com/content/dam/news/static/baynews9/documents/2014/01/Red-light-camera-study-usf-124.pdf
Article summarizing USF findings:Study finds red light cameras cause accidents | Watchdog Wire - Florida:
University of North Carolina A&T study prepared for US DOT:
Crashes increase at Winnipeg intersections with 7 years of data:
A California firm was found to rig their data in a bid to keep red light cameras:
Analysis Of National Data Finds No Benefit To Red Light Cameras:
Roundup of Red Light Camera Studies: