Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Ignoring Red-Light Camera Facts

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Ignoring Red-Light Camera Facts

Article excerpt

Senator's move to repeal Florida law undermines a study he proposed

A month ago, Florida Sen. Jeff Brandes did a good impression of Sgt. Joe Friday of "Dragnet" fame, saying he wanted just "the facts" about the use of red-light cameras on state and local roads.

Brandes, a Republican whose district includes parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. He is also an unabashed opponent of red-light cameras, which local governments have installed throughout Florida.

Yet we credited Brandes in an Aug. 1 editorial for suspending his personal view until a credible state agency, the Office of Program Policy and Government Accountability, examined red-light camera policies and practices across the state.

Brandes specifically wanted OPPAGA to study or re-examine:

- The standards that police use to judge whether to ticket motorists who fail to make a complete stop -- at the appropriate place -- while turning right on a red light. Officers can also take into account the speed at which drivers made the turn. In sum, Brandes wanted to know whether the rules should be standardized statewide.

- The timing of yellow warning lights at intersections where red- light cameras are installed. A television station (WTSP) in Brandes' district has reported that a number of cities and counties in the Tampa Bay area -- including Manatee -- reduced the duration of yellow lights to the state Department of Transportation's minimum.

"This study will give us the facts and, armed with this data, we will be addressing red-light cameras next legislative session," Brandes told the Herald-Tribune.

Safety takes a back seat

Well, the next legislative session doesn't open until March 4, 2014, and OPPAGA has not completed its study.

But yesterday Brandes filed SB 114. If passed as written, the bill would essentially repeal the state law -- approved just three years ago -- that allows cities and counties to install and operate red-light cameras.

So much for waiting, Sgt. Friday style, until all the facts are in.

In a statement issued yesterday, Brandes made clear that his mind is made up. "We have had red-light cameras in Florida for over three years. …

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