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Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Bill proposes repeal of Florida red-light cameras

TALLAHASSEE — State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, filed a bill Wednesday aimed at turning off red-light cameras that have popped up at intersections across the state.

The measure (SB 144) would remove the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act of 2010 from Florida law.

The cameras are used in issuing tickets to the owners of vehicles that run red lights.

“We have had red-light cameras in Florida for over three years. They were initially sold as safety devices, but I have come to firmly believe that they are now being used as backdoor tax increases,” Brandes said in a news release. “We have seen municipalities that have installed these devices shorten yellow-light times and set arbitrary standards on right-turn-on-red violations. I believe cities will continue to install these devices if left unchecked.”

Expect opposition from local governments, as more than 100 jurisdictions across the state use traffic-light cameras that collectively have generated more than $100 million a year through tickets.

The state Department of Transportation in June directed local agencies to add at least 0.4 seconds to the yellow intervals on traffic lights. Research had found that yellow lights were set a half-second shorter than the recommended interval, which could result in a doubling of the number of tickets.

The red-light camera law, signed by former Gov. Charlie Crist, was named after Wandall, who was killed by a red-light runner in 2003.

Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, is expected to file the House companion to Brandes’ bill.

A similar proposal failed to advance last session, but lawmakers included a provision in an omnibus transportation bill (HB 7125) that is intended to make it tougher for local governments to issue tickets to drivers caught on camera turning right on red.

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