Florida lawmakers will once again discuss banning red-light cameras. Rep. Anthony Sabatini has introduced a bill in the House that would outlaw the devices. Sabatini, who introduced similar legislation in 2018 and 2019, decided to take action in November when the Florida Supreme Court decided not to hear arguments in a case that challenged the constitutionality of Aventura’s red-light camera program.
Groups that support red-light cameras point to studies from organizations like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that show red-light runners cause about 22% of all traffic accidents in the United States. However, opponents of the cameras cite other studies that suggest installing the devices leads to a surge in rear-end collisions caused by drivers braking sharply to avoid a ticket.
Red-light cameras were authorized in Florida in 2010 by bill that established the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Program. The program is named after a 30-year-old man who was killed in a 2003 accident caused by a red-light runner. Legislative efforts to ban the cameras have been made almost every year since. These bills are usually supported overwhelmingly in the House but fail to garner much backing in the Senate. The Florida League of Cities also opposes legislation that would ban cameras capable of generating up to $100 million in revenue each year for cash-strapped municipalities.
In addition to deterring reckless behavior and identifying dangerous drivers, red-light cameras may provide experienced personal injury attorneys with evidence that could be used to establish negligence in motor vehicle accident lawsuits. Images captured by red-light cameras could clearly show that the defendant in such a case ignored a red light immediately before crashing, which would very likely be enough to meet the burden of proof in civil court.