Orlando Tribune Red Light Program 2007 Gavin P Smith

Red Lights Could Generate Green – Cameras Coming to Orange County

Orlando Tribune Red Light Program 2007 Gavin P Smith

ORANGE COUNTY – In life, there is one statement that always rings true.  Rumors will always abound until the truth is found.  Well, the rumor mills are cranking lately when it comes to the notion of traffic light cameras coming to Orlando and the surrounding areas. 

These traffic signal cameras are nothing new in other parts of the country.  They watch for motorists who run the light, snap a photo of the license plate, and the photo and fine are sent out to the address of the car owner. 

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, almost 1 out of every 4 traffic accidents in the United States is caused by drivers that run red lights. As a result, around 800 people die per year, and at least $7 billion in property damage, medical bills, lost productivity and insurance hikes are caused.  Despite these numbers, red-light violations are rising at 10% or more per year.

The idea has already been put forth to the state legislature on several occasions, although some feel that momentum is growing.  So far, the legislature has yet to fully vote traffic signal cameras into existence for the county, although groups like MetroPlan Orlando and certain county officials are pushing the issue. 

“Commissioner Stewart has led the charge so far and would like to see it happen,” said Ruby Rozier, Manager of Traffic Engineering for Orange County.  “We support red-light cameras, and I know that MetroPlan Orlando has also expressed a desire for the legislation to happen.”

While support for this traffic technology grows, so do the rumors.  According to officials, there is only one red-light camera system that has been put into place so far in Orange County and surrounding areas.  That camera system is located in Apopka. Contrary to the rumors, it is not spitting out tickets to red-light runners, yet.

“There is one camera installed on a light in Apopka, but it’s not being used for enforcement purposes,” said Rozier.

In fact, not only has the legislation yet to be approved, but big questions still remain.  Questions regarding the type of systems to be used, where the funding would come from, and what type of fines would be put into place have not even been discussed.

“The type of fines and how we’d pay for the cameras has yet to be determined,” said Rozier.

With growing traffic concerns, one thing is certain.  The need for traffic cameras to be installed is gaining a consensus in the county.  But, so far, they’re not here yet.  So, if you must, you can still run those red lights without worry.

“It’s something that is not in existence and, as for when, that has yet to be determined,” said Rozier.

But what is the real result of installing red-light cameras?  There are many different sides to the issue.  Advocates cite the need for these systems to stop red-light runners from causing accidents and reduce deaths associated with them.  However, some argue that if people are aware of the system, they’ll slam on the brakes to avoid a ticket, only to cause more rear-end collisions, offsetting the safety benefit.  There are the naysayers that believe that these cameras are simply revenue generators thrown into high-traffic areas to fill city coffers.  And, we can’t leave out the conspiracy theorists, who say it’s another way for ‘big brother’ to have his eyes on you. 

The debate lingers as to the true benefit.  With growing traffic concerns, one thing is certain.  The need for traffic cameras to be installed is gaining a consensus in the county.  But, so far, they’re not here yet. 

“It’s something that is not in existence and, as for when, that has yet to be determined,” said Rozier.

If you must, you can still run those red lights without worry – for now.

Posted in Orlando Tribune.