Are red light cameras only for public safety?

1398898417000-Manatee-rolling-rightThroughout the State of Florida, the state has decided to install red light cameras. In Manatee and Sarasota County, we all have been noticing the effect that these red light cameras and the spontaneous notice that we get in the mail stating that we have fallen victim to a red light running citation. The city of Sarasota has installed red light cameras located at several different intersections throughout the city. The active cameras in Sarasota are located at many different intersections on Fruitville Road, Tamiami Trail, and University Parkway. These cameras are part of the Intersection Safety Program whose stated goal is the reduction of collisions. More red light cameras are scheduled to be installed in November.

What Constitutes as a Red Light Violation?  When a motorist makes a right turn at a red light when there is a, “No turn on red” sign, they have committed a red light violation.  If a motorist doesn’t make a complete stop at a red light before turning right, they have committed a red light violation.   If the motorist has crossed the white stop line and is already in the intersection when the light turns red, they have not committed a red light running violation.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), red light violators cause hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries every year. The IIHS reported that in 2009, 676 people were killed due to red light running accidents and 130,000 people were injured. In about half of these accidents, the victims were bicyclists, pedestrians or occupants of vehicles other than the one running the red light.

 How Do The Cameras Operate? The red light cameras are high resolution, high speed digital cameras placed at intersections. They are activated when sensors detect that the light has turned red. The camera then takes two digital photos of the violation. The system is only activated when a vehicle runs a red light and each violation is reviewed by the Police Department before a Notice of Violation is issued.

Those who are in favor of red light cameras will argue that red light cameras reduce fatal red light running collisions as well as reduce other types of intersection accidents. Proponents will argue that the threat of a $158 fine will deter drivers from running red lights. Another argument in favor of the cameras is that state and local governments have a way to raise funds in a time of decreasing government budgets.

EP-130809990Opponents of red light cameras claim it is “big brother” or too much governmental interference into private lives. Opponents will also insist that the installation of these cameras is just a revenue raising policy that allows the government to fine drivers rather than focus on public safety. Another argument is that rear-end collisions are actually increasing because drivers will slam on their brakes at intersections to avoid the cameras which causes them to hit the vehicle in front of them. Yet another argument against the cameras concerns increased insurance rates in areas that issue a high number of red light running tickets.

As you can see the from the photo to the right that just last year, the red light camera revenue for the State of Florida just from Sarasota alone was $1,135,108. Can you really say that the red light cameras are re-enforcing “public safety” or are they just another way for the state of Florida to make more money. The State of Florida by June of 2013 made a total of $19,214,504 dollars in revenue by the red light camera alone, you be the judge as to why the State of Florida really wants to re-enforce the existing red light cameras and has plans to install more cameras around the state.

Here is the list of Active Red light cameras around Sarasota and Bradenton, this list is also available on the Sarasota and Bradenton police department website also.

Active cameras in Sarasota:

  • S/B (southbound) S Tuttle Ave @ Bahia Vista St.
  • E/B (eastbound) Bahia Vista St @ S Tuttle Ave.
  • N/B   N Washington Blvd @ Fruitville Rd.
  • E/B   Fruitville Rd @ N Washington Blvd.
  • W/B  Fruitville Rd @ N Tuttle Ave.
  • N/B  N Tamiami Trail / US 41 @ University Pkwy.
  • S/B   N Tamiami Trail / US 41 @ University Pkwy.
  • N/B  S Tuttle Ave. @ Bahia Vista St.
  • S/B   N. Washington Blvd @ 17th St.
  • N/B  S. Tamiami Tr. / US 41 @ Siesta Dr.
  • S/B  N. Beneva Rd. @ Fruitville Rd.
  • N/B  S Tamiami Trail / US 41 @ Bee Ridge Rd.
  • S/B   S Tamiami Trail / US 41 @ Bee Ridge Rd.
  • W/B  Bee Ridge Rd @ S Tamiami Trail / US 41.
  • S/B   N. Lockwood Ridge Rd. @ Fruitville Blvd.
  • W/B  Fruitville Rd. @ N. Lockwood Ridge Rd.
  • S/B   N. Tuttle Ave. @ Fruitville Rd.
  • E/B   Fruitville Rd. @ N. Lockwood Ridge Rd.
  • N/B   S. Tamiami Tr. / US 41 @ Bahia Vista St.
  • S/B   S. Tamiami Tr. / US 41 @ Bahia Vista St.

 Active Cameras in Bradenton:

  • W/B (westbound)  Manatee Ave E. and 1st St. E
  • S/B (south bound)  1st St. W and Manatee Ave. W
  • E/B  6th Ave. W and 1st St.
  • E/B  7th Ave. E and 9th St. E
  • W/B  27th St. E and Manatee Ave. E
  • S/B  9th St. W and 3rd Ave. W
  • E/B  15th St. W and Manatee Ave. W


Attorney Christopher D. Smith is a Lakewood Ranch, Florida attorney with SmithLaw Attorneys. He concentrates in bankruptcy, civil litigation, probate, estate planning, and elder exploitation cases in the Sarasota and Bradenton area. Call 941-202-2222 to learn more and to ask about our free consultations that are available for certain types of cases.


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