RLC reform: What went wrong in the Capitol

TAMPA BAY, Florida - Despite promises from lawmakers to curb abuses and clarify controversial statutes, the law regulating red light cameras (RLC) in Florida survived the entire 2014 legislative session without a single reform.

"This is the problem with for-profit law enforcement," said State Senator Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, who made RLC reform a top priority of his heading into the session. "We saw the lobbying effort by the counties (and) cities, strongly opposed to any type of red light camera reform."

Among the failed proposals:

  • Clarifying the right turn on red language, which says safe drivers cannot be ticketed for "safe and prudent" right turns, even if they failed to come to a complete stop at a red light. However, many drivers have been caught by surprise by stricter-than-usual municipalities.
  • Requiring cities/counties to re-invest any program profits back into safety programs.
  • Requiring cities/counties to target dangerous intersections instead of the most profitable.
  • Requiring other safety measures be explored first before resorting to RLC. This rule would coincide with the national recommendations that cameras be a last resort at dangerous intersections.

MAP: Short Yellows in Your Neighborhood
TIMELINE: 10 News' Short Yellows Investigation

The legislature's non-partisan policy office released a report earlier this year that criticized numerous aspects of how Florida cities and counties were using red light cameras. However, none of their recommendations were adopted statewide.

Among Brandes' stymied efforts were an amendment (638550) that would prohibit "rolling right" tickets under 15 mph if no crash or pedestrians nearby, as well as an amendment (642454) that would allow a 0.5 second "grace" period for RLC tickets and direct funds to transportation and safety projects.

Both amendments failed, with Senator Tom Lee, R-Brandon, voting for the changes and Senator Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, voting against the changes.


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