Mark Roman | October 29, 2022 | Car Accidents
A recent article in Scientific American analyzed whether red light cameras actually make streets safer. Using available data, the article concluded that while red light cameras, which automatically take photographs of drivers who run red lights, did reduce the incidence of red light violations, their overall effect on safety was questionable.
Specifically, the article found that red light cameras might discourage some drivers from trying to beat a yellow light and speed through an intersection. Instead, they may be more inclined to slam on their brakes to avoid getting a ticket. This could, though, increase the risk of a rear-end collision.
Red Light Camera Use in Florida
In contrast to some states like Texas, Florida law permits Tampa Bay to use red light cameras and to issue citations to drivers who violate red light laws. As of 2020, there were approximately 100 intersections in and around Tampa Bay equipped with red light cameras.
You may not be aware that an intersection has a camera present until you see the flash from the camera itself. By then, it may be too late to avoid a ticket.
If a camera catches you running a red light, you get a ticket that carries with it a fine. If you fail to pay the ticket after the first notification, your fine could increase.
Red light camera footage could also be used in a civil law context. If there’s a collision at an intersection equipped with a red light camera, the camera could hold valuable evidence. It might have captured an image of the driver who ran the red light, thereby making it easier to determine who was at fault for causing the wreck.
Challenging a Red Light Camera Ticket in Tampa Bay, FL
It may seem like a photograph is irrefutable evidence that you violated the law. Certainly, city authorities would prefer that you view a red light camera ticket this way and simply pay the fine without question.
You might have one or more defenses available to you, though, which could cause the court to toss out the ticket. You could also use these defenses to counter red light camera photographs offered in a trial.
First, you should look at the photo or video and verify that you are the driver of the vehicle that went through the intersection. If you lent your vehicle to a friend or relative on the date of the alleged violation, you could have received a ticket for their violation.
Second, ensure that the vehicle depicted in the photo and video footage is your vehicle. Check to see if the license plate is clearly visible. If it isn’t, it may be difficult for the city to prove that you and your vehicle were responsible for the violation.
Next, the photo or video may not actually show a red light violation. If the camera footage does not show you entering the intersection after the light has turned red, you may have a defense against the ticket issued to you.
Under a recently passed Florida law, cities in the Tampa Bay area must provide an avenue for you to contest a red light camera ticket and raise defenses like these before sanctioning you.
A Final Word About Florida Red Light and Traffic Cameras
There is no anticipated legislation to prohibit red light traffic cameras in Florida in the foreseeable future. Although they will continue to operate, they are not the definitive, unassailable proof of traffic violations that authorities wish them to be. Red light camera tickets should be promptly addressed and, when appropriate, challenged.
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