Bill would discontinue red light cameras by 2020
Red light cameras may have just gotten their plugged pulled if a Florida House subcommittee vote is any indication of the trajectory this bill is headed.
By an overwhelming vote of 13-1, the state House transportation and infrastructure subcommittee on Wednesday supported a measure (HB 6007) by Rep. Bryan Avila, R-Hialeah, and Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, that would repeal the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act of 2010.
If repealed, it would prevent the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and local governments from using the cameras for traffic enforcement. The bill would take effect on July 1st, 2020.
“The law may have been well-intentioned, but it has become “a revenue stream” for governments.,” said Avila.
He also referenced a recent Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles study showing the cameras have failed to enhance public safety, but revenues continued to increase. This year’s proposal to ban the cameras has some momentum because of that study analyzing crash data in dozens of cities and counties that use the cameras in Florida. The data has been disputed by red-light camera advocates because it was not comprehensive, which is a point the department concedes.
Opponents included the Florida League of Cities and Melissa Wandall (the wife of Mark Wandall), who argued that local officials should be able to decide whether to use the cameras. Melissa Wandall maintained the law saves lives. Wandall’s husband was killed by a driver who ran a red light.
“If I thought this was killing other people, maiming other people, injuring other people, I tell you right now I would have my husband’s name taken off this” law, she said. “I’m not just an advocate. I know the statistics. I work with law enforcement. We’re taking all these tools away from law enforcement.”
Representative Barbara Watson from Miami Gardens cast the only NO vote. She noted the study looked at crashes up to 250 feet from intersections.
Orange County Sheriff’s Captain Dennis Strange testified that the cameras are a deterrent and said drivers modify their behavior where they know cameras are used.
“I can tell you that my sons, when they got their permits, they knew where every red light camera was. I had a standing rule, if you are issued a citation, that’s your baby, you pay it,” Strange said.
The measure goes next to the House Appropriations Committee, then the Government Accountability Committee.
Apopka currently has 21 different red light cameras at 10 intersections in the city. For more information on red light cameras, go here.
Note: Several news outlets contributed to this report.