Cities weigh cameras at dangerous intersections

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/florida/sfl-flfredlight0224sbfeb24,0,7031038.story?track=rss

Cities weigh cameras at dangerous intersections

The Associated Press

February 24, 2008

BRADENTON

Florida law prohibits local governments from using images from cameras mounted at intersections to issue traffic tickets, but some cities have found a loophole.

More jurisdictions are considering mounting cameras and issuing civil infractions instead of traffic tickets, which can affect a person’s driving record and insurance.

Two Florida cities, Gulf Breeze in the Panhandle and Apopka in the center of the state, already issue civil fines for anyone caught by a traffic camera running a red light.

Jacksonville and Orlando leaders have approved installing the cameras at intersections. Hillsborough and Palm Beach counties and the Tampa Bay city of Bradenton are among the communities considering similar programs.

Bradenton officials said their efforts are preliminary, but Hillsborough and Palm Beach county commissioners will debate whether to install traffic cameras at meetings in early March.

If approved, Hillsborough officials would place cameras at some of the county’s 10 most dangerous intersections. Violators would be fined $125 per offense, much the same way a resident can be fined for an unkempt yard.

Some state legislators want to change the law that prohibits local governments from using the cameras to issue traffic citations. Rep. Ron Reagan and Sen. Mike Bennett, both Republicans from Bradenton, have been urging colleagues to pass a law named after a Manatee County man killed in 2003 by a driver who ran a red light.

Previous efforts to change the law have stalled because critics call the cameras an invasion of privacy.

Copyright © 2008

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