Posted in: Commentary,
by Gregg Laskoski on Feb 11, 2013 12:00 PM
The whole point of red-light cameras is to improve driver safety by reducing red-light running, right?
West Palm Beach has already been running red-light cameras at four city intersections, and a partial police review of those locations showed that crashes have doubled since the installation of the red-light cameras.
More crashes, and the vendor’s losing money, too, because so far the cost of the operation is outstripping the income generated by the insufficient number of drivers who are snagged for the $158 citations.
The Palm Beach Post says the city’s camera business has an economy-of-scale problem. The $19,000-a-month labor costs of city workers to handle the action at a small number of intersections is too expensive. So what do you think the city chose to do?
It announced that there will be 25 new intersections in the city that will soon sport these cash collection sites. The city’s investing $247,000 in its traffic-ticket venture — all in the name of doing the right thing.
That's right. They've had an increase in crashes but with more lights, --they've got their fingers crossed-- they just might turn a profit even if there are some nagging injuries or fatalities to worry about.
“We’re really doing this for the right reason, which is safety,” Mayor Jeri Muoio said, believe it or not, with a straight face.
But, there may be good news for Florida motorists. On the other side of the state, attorney Peyton Hyslop has a perfect record in cases defending clients who fight red-light camera tickets.
Hyslop is a former Hernando County judge. He told the Tampa Bay Times that the way the red-light camera program is run denies vehicle owners of their right to due process.
According to Hyslop, citations are sent to the owner of the vehicle without regard to who was behind the wheel when the infraction occurred. In addition, he believes that issuing a citation based solely on photographic and video evidence goes against the state's basic rules of evidence.
A police officer who issues a normal red-light ticket can be cross-examined in court about the circumstances of the incident, Hyslop explained. But that can't happen with a time-stamped photo or video.
"It's directly contrary to what is allowed, and that, I believe, makes that evidence inadmissible," Hyslop said.
So far, every judge has ruled in his favor on these cases. I have a feeling his office is going to be getting a lot of phone calls from West Palm Beach.