Florida lawmakers want to take action when it comes to preventing car accidents. Yet according to a recent article in the Miami Herald, legislators are considering outlawing red light cameras throughout the state despite loudly voiced objections from officials in individual cities and counties. If lawmakers in our state want to curb the rate of auto accidents on Florida's roads, is removing red light cameras really the best decision? According to Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg, red light cameras have "essentially no safety benefit." To be sure, lawmakers believe that distracted driving and cellphone use behind the wheel are to blame for a majority of traffic collisions.
Details of the Red Light Camera Backlash
Red light cameras, as many drivers in West Florida know, are devices that "capture driving infractions at certain intersections and later result in sometimes costly tickets to motorists." Proponents of these devices argue that they serve as a deterrent-encouraging drivers to slow down or avoid running a red light, knowing that they could be caught even if a law enforcement official is not present to spot the traffic violation in person. Lawmakers like Brandes contend that red light cameras simply to not serve this deterrent function, and the costs of tickets from the device essentially serve as "a backdoor tax increase on citizens who can't afford to pay it."
While the Florida League of Cities and other proponents of the red light cameras strongly oppose the sentiments espoused by Brandes and other lawmakers, Brandes has introduced a bill, SB 168, which would "prohibit local governments from using red-light cameras" if it passes. Florida legalized red-light cameras for the first time back in 2010. Since then, numerous cities have continued to use them, but there have been notable exceptions. For instance, North Miami Beach decided to do away with them, and just recently Gulfport-in the Tampa area-has turned them off.
If the proposed law passes, it will not take effect until 2019. But if it does pass, how do lawmakers propose we take steps to prevent deadly car accidents? By and large, those opposed to red-light cameras suggest we turn our attention to the dangers of distracted driving.
Distracted Driving and Fatal Auto Accidents in Florida
According to a fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), distracted driving comes in three different forms:
● Visual distractions (in which you take your eyes off the road);
● Manual distractions (in which you take your hands off the wheel); and
● Cognitive distractions (in which you are not paying proper attention to your driving).
When it comes to smartphone use, drivers can become distracted in all three of the ways mentioned above. And the facts surrounding distracted driving are sobering. The CDC reports the following facts and figures:
● More than nine people suffer fatal injuries in distracted driving accidents each day;
● Each day more than 1,153 people sustain injuries in distracted driving crashes;
● In 2012, more than 3,300 people died in auto accidents involving a distracted driver;
● About 421,000 people sustained injuries in accidents involving a distracted driver in 2012, which was a nine percent increase from the previous year; and
● Nearly 20 percent of all car accidents in which someone is injured or killed involve a distracted driver.
Given these facts, it might indeed be time to turn our attention from red-light cameras to distracted driving crackdowns. In the meantime, if you or a loved one recently sustained injuries in a car accident, you should reach out to an experienced West Central Florida auto accident attorney to learn more about filing a claim for compensation. Contact the Wells Law Group, P.A. to learn more.