Eyewitness News has found that red light cameras installed at Orange County intersections make the streets safer and reduce car accidents. The cameras were installed in Apopka in August 2007, and at that time Eyewitness News reports that 262 red light runners were caught. Over time, however, drivers exercised more caution and by last month only 35 red light runners were caught at the same intersections.
The accident reports from the same time period, however, really show the effect that red light cameras have had on safety in the area. Crashes at 441 and Sheller Avenue in the area have dropped 72% since the cameras were installed. The Park Avenue camera area has seen a 64% decline in accidents.
This drop in car accidents can not only reduce fatalities and the injuries — including broken bones, head injuries, permanent disabilities, burn injuries and other injuries that are all too common in car accidents. According to police, the decrease in accidents also frees up more police officers to focus on other types of crimes, thus reducing crimes. In the past, the Apopka Police Department had five or six officers running a detail in the afternoon to try to keep up with accidents and traffic violations. Those officers can now patrol and try to halt crimes.
Apopka policymakers consider the red light cameras a success and there is some discussion of installing more cameras. Currently, violators caught running a red light on camera are given a $125 citation. Part of the funds raised in this way are used to defray the costs of operating the cameras, and this helps make the cameras affordable for the city.
Some Florida residents, however, claim it is nor red light runners that cause accidents but teens who are talking on cell phones or texting as they drive. Some residents and even policymakers have voiced concerns over the fact that some drivers appear to be focusing on their mobile devices rather than the road. At least some fatal accidents have been linked to cell phones and texting and some police departments in other regions have voiced their worries over this driving habit. Florida has stopped short at banning mobile devices in cars.
While the red light cameras do seem to have an impact on driving accidents, even a few car accidents can cause enormous pain, suffering, and damage. Any steps that can be taken to reduce such accidents make Florida a safer place.