Do Florida Red Light Cameras Pose a Risk For Rear-End Collisions?

Posted By on March 17, 2015

Last Update: 01/13/16

Here in South Florida, if you look up at most street intersections you will often see a camera attached to the stoplight. That’s because the Powers that Be have installed “red light cameras” as part of a plan to make streets safer and cut down on people running traffic lights and causing accidents.

Officially, “red light cameras” or “RLCs” were authorized by the Florida Legislature in the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act. This law provides that governing bodies around the state (municipalities, counties, etc.) can install RLCs at intersections within their jurisdiction as long as they report their crash statistics to the State of Florida on a yearly basis.

Do Red Light Cameras Cause More Accidents?

The problem is, red light cameras have proven to be more of a danger than a precaution. Last year, the Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) researched the situation after most Florida cities as well as Florida county agencies dealing with transportation issues were discovering and reporting that their red light cameras were the cause of MORE ACCIDENTS at those street intersections where the cameras had been installed.

Interestingly, in the DHSMV’s 2014 study about the Florida red light camera campaign, the red light camera accident findings were not included in the study. As a long time personal injury lawyer and someone who keeps abreast of the latest issues related to personal injury law, I know this information was omitted because of a recent news report about RLCs.

The news report discovered that:

  • 50% of the communities (cities, counties) reporting on RLCs found that there was a jump in traffic accidents at RLC intersections. Only 20% reported they found no change in the number of wrecks at sites where red light cameras had been installed.
  • 63% of these communities had MORE REAR-END COLLISIONS since red light cameras were installed.
  • Many of the cities and counties are not abiding by the Wandall Traffic Safety Act and reporting their yearly accident numbers, so these percentages may be even higher.

Can The Courts Help You If You Receive a Ticket Because of a Red Light Camera?

In 2011, a driver sued in a Broward County Court after receiving a subpoena to traffic court and a traffic ticket for running a red light and won. The driver successfully argued that a private company cannot issue traffic tickets, only a Florida governing authority can. Since the RLC company American Traffic Solutions sent the driver that subpoena and traffic ticket, the driver argued he didn’t have to pay any fine.

The Florida District Court of Appeals agreed with the driver. The City of Hollywood had contracted with American Traffic Solutions to install and monitor the red light cameras, but the municipality could not delegate its police power to issue tickets to the private company.

From the opinion:

In Florida, only law enforcement officers and traffic enforcement officers have the legal authority to issue citations for traffic infractions, which means only law enforcement officers and traffic enforcement officers are entitled to determine who gets prosecuted for a red light violation….

After this appellate court ruling, other Florida jurisdictions have been having second thoughts about their RLCs. Boca Raton, Coral Springs, Hallandale Beach, Margate, and Palm Beach County are among those local governing bodies that have stopped giving out traffic tickets based upon red light cameras after this Broward case was affirmed on appeal (among other challenges).

However, this case isn’t final — the Florida Supreme Court grades the papers of Florida appellate courts and it hasn’t ruled on RLCs yet. So, some cities and counties in South Florida are still using RLCs (think Boynton Beach) for traffic control and the practice of having red light cameras at street intersections is still legal here.

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Want to find out where red light cameras are in your area?

Check out this website which provides a map to all active RLCs in the State of Florida.

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Florida Legislator Introduces Bill for New Law to Block RLCs in Florida

A state senator out of St. Petersburg, Jeff Brandes, introduced a bill last week that would block these RLCs being used here in Florida. He argues that these RLCS are merely ways for cities and counties to scarf up traffic ticket money and that’s the real reason that they are fighting to keep the cameras up there near the traffic lights.

Did a Red Light Camera Contribute to Your Rear End Car Accident?

If you have been involved in a rear end collision here in South Florida, then you may want to check to see if a red light camera might have been a contributing factor to the accident.  You will want to determine if:

  • Was there a RLC at the intersection?
  • Did the car in front of you brake suddenly because the driver spotted that camera and didn’t want to get a traffic ticket for going over the speed limit?

What Should You Do Now?

A good piece of advice if you have been harmed in an rear end colision, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.

Related:

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

 

 

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