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Red Light Cameras Continue to Run in Clearwater

After hearing a report regarding the safety and effectiveness of the red light camera program, city leaders decided to continue it and expect to hear another report in six months.

Six months is just not enough time to figure out what role red light cameras play in car crashes, according to Clearwater Police.

While the number of crashes has gone up at intersections with red light cameras, none of the incidents were rear-end collisions related to drivers stopping short to make sure they do not get a red light camera violation, officials say.

Maj. Daniel Slaughter with Clearwater Police compiled a report detailing the red light camera program that started in July and presented it to city leaders Tuesday, March 5.

“The goal is to reduce red light-related traffic crashes as well a improve safety” he said. “Now that we have access, there are a lot of near misses that we are lucky they didn't turn into crashes.”

He said violations have trended downward but it could take two or three years to compile enough crash data to see what the impact the cameras have.

“You can see by the numbers we don't have sample sizes large enough to see ...” Slaughter said.

The system has helped police in criminal and crash investigations and is financially self sustaining, so far, according to records.

The cameras were installed in July 2012 and warnings were issued to violators. Red light running violations at intersections with cameras have decreased each month since fines started to be issued with an exception in December.

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Leaders also were concerned about a letter from Ken Burke, Pinellas County Clerk of Court, asking Clearwater and other cities to stop issuing red light camera violations because there are flaws in the system and his office is spending a disproportionate amount of time dealing with the fallout from violators.

Burke said a significant number of red light violations are issued erroneously to the owner of a vehicle, not the driver.

"These citizens are upset with the poor communication, insufficient information and resulting unfair penalties," Burke wrote in a letter dated Feb. 20 to city leaders in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Gulfport, Kenneth City, South Pasadena and Oldsmar.

Officials wanted to make sure a distinction is made to rental car users that they do not have to pay the typical $256 red light ticket if caught on camera. That violation comes with a $158 fine.

“So why can’t Redflex say since you were leasing this car, the City of Clearwater will allow you to pay $158,” asked Mayor George N. Cretekos.

Slaughter said there are some changes that can be made to the letter the camera company sends to violators.

"We may just flood the clerk with dismissals and transfer our problem," he said.

Officials asked to hear about the program again in six months.

Related coverage:

  • Red Light Camera Revenue Tops $570K in Clearwater
  • Pinellas Clerk Asks Clearwater to Stop Writing Red Light Camera Tickets
  • Cameras Cut Red Light Running in Clearwater
  • Red Light Cameras Reducing Crashes in Florida
  • Red Light Camera Locations in Clearwater
  • Red Light Cameras Coming to Clearwater
  • Red Light Cameras Running in Clearwater
  • City Approved Red Light Camera Proposal
rick barasso March 07, 2013 at 12:33 PM
Crashes have gone up at these intersections! Not enough time? Truth is, too much money to be made. So much for concerns of safety...
Michael D. March 07, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Basically what Slaugther said,"Clearwater citizens we will care about your safety when it starts to make us money. Until then we will make sure the yellow light timer is quicker than a vehicle by Federal standards can stop and will take you money without representation." So what it tells me as a voter in Clearwater, The police chief and the current city council members do not need my vote at the next election. Money is more important than the safety of the citizens.
Paul Henry March 08, 2013 at 06:40 AM
“The goal is to reduce red light-related traffic crashes as well a improve safety” There is only one type of crash an automated for-profit law enforcement device can deal with: the red light violation. This nonsense about "related" crashes has been parroted by local official after local official. If you want to know the facts, they are easy to find: 1. Get state DOT data for the intersection(s) for equal periods of time before and after device use. 2. Look for crashes caused by code "11", or disregarded traffic signal. Those are the crashes caused by red light violations. 3. Tally the numbers. I've done just that for many Florida cities and a pattern has emerged- some have seen a reduction, while others have seen no change, and yet others have seen an increase. The same can be seen at intersections that do not use automated for-profit enforcement- these crashes, like all crashes, fluctuate year to year. Any traffic officer knows this. The reason for this is that the drivers that commit red light violations resulting in crashes are the ones that for several reasons (inattention or impairment are the main ones) do not perceive the red signal. Not automated device at roadside will prevent this type of crash. Maybe if I get elected to Clerk of Court what I write will have some impact. In the meantime, automated for-profit law enforcement is a bad idea, and it is a corrupting influence. Support Motorist Rights: HB 1061 / SB 1342.
TS March 10, 2013 at 11:24 PM
When you drive certain main roads the lights turn green and only allow a small amount of traffic to go. Then turn red. This is where the government is the one causing the red light accidents because they do not allow a fair, even traffic flow. A person waits in line to turn at some lights,and the light only allows two to four cars to turn. You wait for another cycle of lights to only be stopped again before you can make the light. UGH ! Also you can drive late a night or very early morning and the light changes to red and there are no vehicles around to go. What happen to conserving fuel. Each time we have to stop for no reason we waste gas. Some intersections I avoid because you sit there for a very long time and the lights change quickly back to getting the other direction rolling.It is scary to think that maybe the government has created their own monster. How much have we spent on traffic control and for what ? More violations and accidents.Fix the system and you will fix most of the problem.

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