Signs, Signs Everywhere a Sign

New warning signs at signals across Central Florida warn of red-light fines

Orlando Tribune - Red Light Sign 2007 - Gavin P SmithORANGE COUNTY – Motorists may soon get an eyeful at traffic lights around the county courtesy of Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty.  The County Mayor is on the march against red light runners and the resulting injuries, costs and damages from red-light related accidents.

“Nationwide, 20% of fatal vehicle crashes involve red light runners,” said Mayor Crotty.  “Most of the deaths are either pedestrians or passengers in the vehicle that is struck by the red light runner.”

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, that number may be closer to 25%.   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.

In 2004 in Orange County, 57 people lost their lives in crashes involving red light runners.

The mayor’s current push is two-fold.  First, he intends to push for legislation at the state level to create a state law that would allow municipalities to use cameras at intersections to catch and fine red light runners.  Sound familiar? 

The idea has already been put forth to the state legislature on several occasions.  The legislature has yet to fully vote traffic signal cameras into existence for the county and the rest of the state.  County Commissioner Tiffany Stewart, along with groups like MetroPlan Orlando, has also been pushing the issue. 

“Orange County is serious about cracking down on red light runners,” said Mayor Crotty.

Unfortunately, under legal advisement, the county can’t move forward with cameras and prosecute violators from camera footage without state law, as this may open up the county to potential legal matters.  However, that hasn’t deterred the Mayor in his quest.

The second part of Mayor Crotty’s push for safer red lights comes in the form of hundreds of warning signs to be placed at traffic signals everywhere throughout Orange County.  The Mayor intends to use about $53,000 of his discretionary public works budget to buy the signs, hoping they will educate motorists about the severity of the fine and act as a deterrent. The fine for running a red light in Orange County is set at $180.50. 

The Board of County Commissioners has also asked staff to look into the feasibility of installing red light cameras at a couple of busy intersections.  According to sources, 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. It is only being used to observe traffic flow at this time.  However, Commissioners seek to get approval to use these cameras to issue warning letters to vehicle owners photographed running a red light.