Red light cameras. Those three little words have been the topic of discussion for the city of Brooksville, Florida for a while now and most probably just glance at the articles in the newspaper on this topic and then pass right over, notating the locations of the six new cameras of course for later reference as to avoid one of those dreaded $158 tickets. That’s what I did for the first few articles I read that were discussing the delay in getting the cameras operational and then notifying us all of their functioning. However, on June 3rd the Tampa Bay Times ran a story titled “Brooksville’s new red light cameras issue 305 citations in two weeks“. My first thought was “Wow! These cameras really were needed.” Though, after reading further a few points within the article really stood out to me in a negative way and have been nagging at me ever since.
So, in addition to the 305 citations issued as of June 3rd there were also 226 still under review as possible violations. Here’s where I have my next thought while reading this article: “Now that seems a bit excessive.” The article went on to explain that citations are issued by a private company, Sensys America Inc., and that under the agreement approved by the Brooksville City Council this company stands to reap a $4,500 (maximum) payout each month from our lead footed residents. “Really? Well that gives the company a huge incentive to ticket excessively!” Then the kicker came when the article revealed that violators may opt to pay the fine and in doing so their driving records will not reflect the incident or they may choose to challenge the citation in traffic court. The article didn’t explicitly state that if the challenger lost the challenge their driving record would be impacted, but that is what the wording implied.
Red light cameras are obviously beneficial to the city in terms of bringing in revenue and will also deter some drivers from engaging in the dangerous practice of racing through an intersection and risking the lives of others. Still, there’s something about the high incentive for Sensys America to issue violations combined with the disincentive for those ticketed to challenge the citation that just doesn’t seem right. The most recent articles in the paper seem to indicate that there has been backlash from the citizens who have been ticketed (which would be expected) who state that the warning signs are not clearly visible. The logical response to that argument is that you shouldn’t need to be warned not to run a red light. However, that backlash has the City Council considering issuing warnings for a time before they start actually fining people, but because that wasn’t thought of prior to the the contract being signed Sensys would want compensation to do so and that’s money that the City just doesn’t have. Is it just me or is this whole thing a bit unsettling?