Apopka was one of the first municipalities to install Red Light Cameras. After 10 years there are still many details that are misunderstood. The Apopka Voice recently met with the Apopka Police Department to find out just how the system works.
Every licensed driver in Florida knows that it is illegal to run a red light. More specifically, it is illegal to enter the intersection after the light has turned red. This includes vehicles making right-hand turns. Everyone is required to stop before the painted stop line once the light has turned red.
Like sporting events, the difference between a lawful action and a violation can be a matter of a few inches. The NFL has the Instant Replay. The APD has Red Light Cameras
How does the system work?
American Traffic Systems (ATS), operates the Red Light Camera system in Apopka. The ATS system activates when vehicle motion is detected after the traffic signal has turned red. Once activated the Red Light Safety Camera captures several images of the vehicle as it travels through the intersection.
The system also records various data, including the time, date, durations of the yellow and red lights and the speed of the vehicle just prior to entering the intersection.
The system also captures 12 seconds of digital video that includes six seconds prior to and six seconds after the vehicle entered the intersection.
It is important to know that the data collected is considered an "event," not a violation.
What happens to the photos and the video?
Each event is reviewed by ATS personnel who compares the facts of the event to a list of criteria provided by the APD. The events that meet the APD criteria are then flagged. All of the events, flagged and unflagged, are sent to the APD for review.
Who at APD reviews the flagged events?
Traffic officers and civilian Traffic Infraction Enforcement Officers review the flagged events and determine if a violation has occurred. If a violation has occurred the owner of the vehicle will receive a notice within 30 days.
Are only events flagged by ATS reviewed?
No APD supervisors randomly review unflagged events to assure criteria compliance.
What should I do if I get a Red Light violation notice?
Your first step should be to use the website listed on the notice to review the video of the event. If, after reviewing the video, you still think you are right you should call the APD and meet with one of the Traffic Officers to review the video. The last step would be to formally contest the violation and ask for a magistrate review.
Keep in mind that if the Magistrate determines a violation exists you will incur $250 in court costs in addition to the cost of the Red Light violation.
How many Red Light Camera violations occur in Apopka each year?
According to the APD, in 2016 44,664 events that met that met the APD criteria were reviewed by APD officers. Of those, 32,098 were determined to be red light violations.
How many violations are appealed to the Magistrate?
According to APD, about 50 violation notices are challenged each month. The Magistrate hears challenges once per month. There were 31 challanges heard at the January 10, 2017 hearing. Twenty-five were upheld and 6 were dismissed.
Who determines the duration of the yellow lights?
Yellow light duration times are established by the Florida Department of Transportation. Deviations from the FDOT standards are not allowed.
How much money does the City of Apopka make from the Red Light Cameras?
According to the City of Apopka Public Information Office, a little over $700,000, which is less than 1% of the $100-million budget.
APD is quick to point out that the purpose of the program is not to maximize net revenue. "The purpose of the program is to change behavior and increase public safety," says Lieutenant Steve Brick.
If the City is not making money why do it?
"We are trying to change driver behavior," says APD Captain Randall Fernandez.
Sometimes I see a car obviously run a red light but I don't see the camera flash. Why?
The cameras only flash when recording an event in low-light conditions. If it is a sunny day there will be no flash.
How many Red light Cameras are in Apopka?
Apopka has 21 Red Light Cameras at 10 different intersections.
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