Authorities say accidents are down at the intersections across South Florida that have red light cameras, and in Miami even more so when compared to intersections without cameras. Drivers Katerina Chirdaris and Alex Martinez, Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and City Commissioner Francis Suarez spoke about the issue.
On Monday police released video showing what they say are red light runners seen on camera. Time and time again the cameras catch drivers that police say didn't stop on red.
Authorities say accidents are down at the intersections across South Florida that have cameras, and in Miami even more so when compared to intersections without cameras.
No one likes a ticket but some drivers think the cameras are a positive overall.
“They flash all the time and they are pretty disturbing sometimes, but in another sense it’s good that you know they are trying to monitor the speed,” driver Katerina Chirdaris said.
But others don't like being watched.
“I like to get away with a few things every now and then and they are always on me – pressure,” Alex Martinez said.
Traffic experts say that at red light camera intersections, accidents in Miami are down 10 percent, 68 percent in Miami Gardens, 57 percent in Aventura, 23 percent in Miami Springs and 17 percent in Miami Beach.
“I think the conversation should be about safety and should be about accidents but it’s becoming a political football,” Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said.
Miami’s program was suspended recently. A new state law requires cities to handle their own citation appeals process. If Miami moves forward with its program, it has to set up an appeal board for drivers who want to challenge the tickets.
"The City has to create a board. The cost of running the board will be $800,000 a year but now the people who appeal pay about $115. The city believes that we can do the appeal for $85,” Regalado said.
In Miami, there are 153 cameras at 98 intersections. The $3.4 million the program brings in annually is generated by the 1,200 tickets given out each month.
"This is a program that may have been well intended when it first started, but has gotten completely out of control in the city of Miami,” said City Commissioner Francis Suarez.
The commissioner, who is running for mayor against Regalado, said drivers feel like they are paying an involuntary tax.
"My investigation of these cameras has determined that they have gotten to a point where they have been abusively administered by our administration. We are the camera capital of the state of Florida. We have more cameras than the next six cities combined,” Suarez said.
Miami commissioners will meet on Thursday to see if they will go forward with the program. Others cities across the area are going to also have to make the same decision.
Commission Chairman Marc Sarnoff said that he's all for getting the appeals magistrate set up in Miami, and the people getting the tickets who want to appeal are paying for it, so there won't be a strain on the city budget.
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