In 2019, traffic accidents in Florida and around the country caused by drivers who ran red lights claimed 846 lives, and it was usually pedestrians, cyclists or the occupants of vehicles obeying traffic laws who died. These collisions are so deadly because they usually involve vehicles traveling at high speeds striking road users who have little or no time to react. Studies show that cameras placed at busy intersections can reduce red-light running significantly, but plans to install the devices are often met with fierce opposition from communities and lawmakers.
Intersection cameras are activated automatically when traffic signals turn from amber to red, and they capture images of the license plates of vehicles that run red lights so tickets can be sent to their owners. When the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety studied the effectiveness of red-light cameras in California and Virginia, it found that they reduced red-light running by up to 40%. They also noticed that fewer motorists ran red lights at nearby intersections. Researchers from the road safety advocacy group also compared accident rates at intersections with and without red-light cameras. They concluded that the devices reduce fatal red-light running accidents by more than 20%.
Lawmakers in Florida approved the use of red-light cameras in 2010 when they passed the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act. By 2014, the state had 82 active red light programs. That figure has since dropped to 58, and several attempts have been made to repeal the 2010 law and eliminate intersection cameras. The most recent legislative effort to ban red-light cameras in Florida was introduced in December 2020. If it is passed and signed into law, municipalities will have until 2024 to remove all of their red-light cameras.
Holding red-light runners accountable
The photographs taken by red-light cameras can also be used to establish negligence in motor vehicle accident lawsuits. Experienced personal injury attorneys advocating on behalf of road users injured by red-light runners can use subpoenas to obtain these images. Attorneys could also check residences and businesses near the accident scene for video cameras that could have recorded the events as they unfolded.