Despite their growing prominence, red-light cameras continue to court significant controversy. Considered a type of automated traffic enforcement, the cameras take a picture of a motor vehicle’s license plate should a driver fail to stop at a red light. The owner/driver receives a ticket in the mail.
New York City was the first to have cameras in the early 1990s. By 2012, 533 cities were using them. Since that time, a combination of community opposition and funding challenges have resulted in city officials dropping their respective programs. As of January 2022, 338 communities in 22 states – including the District of Columbia – have them installed throughout their respective communities.
Stats and studies
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration division, more than half of combined fatal and injury collisions happen at or near intersections.
The photo-driven documentation of red light-related infractions purportedly increases safety by having more drivers stop at red lights for fear of getting a traffic ticket. The 24/7, 365 days per year traffic enforcement is considered unbiased, with documented evidence that is difficult to dispute.
City governments, including Sarasota’s, have joined with companies in the business of installing and maintaining red-light cameras. Currently, twenty intersections have cameras at the ready to document drivers running red lights. Redspeed Florida LLC is a prominent entity responsible for its operations.
Since implementation, net revenues are well into six and approaching seven figures:
- $955,066 in 2019
- $408,751 in 2020
- $780,636 in 2021
Estimates for 2022 are at more than 780,000 red-light tickets. While providing much-needed revenues to communities in Florida and throughout the nation, this form of automated law enforcement remains in dispute when it comes to effectiveness, accuracy, and overall fairness.