Robert and I did a tour of central Florida in June surveying possible speed camera locations. We covered many hundreds of miles but only managed to verify 5 cameras, and we found another one by accident a trial location.
Since then cameras have been installed at 7 of the City of Orlando's worst intersections. I just happened to be in the area the week after the cameras went live and managed to locate all of the 10 cameras at the seven intersections and make sure they were in the PocketGPSWorld.com Speed Camera Database for the next release.
With an initiative labeled "Orlando Stops" the Mayor of the City of Orlando has declared war on drivers who run red lights. Click here for the details on the City of Orlando website. (The IRIS information on that page refers to public street surveillance nothing to do with speed cameras.) The objective of this program is to reduce the 100 deaths and over 6,000 serious injuries per year due to jumping the lights.
The Orlando government identified the 10 most dangerous intersections for red light running in the city. There are some interesting conflicts of jurisdiction in America where the hierarchy runs from Federal to State to City.
There is currently no definitive Federal Law regarding Red Light or Speed cameras. The generally applied law is that an enforcement officer has to witness the infraction and issue a ticket. As there is no enforcement officer available this becomes a grey area being determined in courts throughout the country.
The State of Florida has decreed that Red Light and Speed Cameras are not to be installed on any property that they own. This includes and State Roads (SR). Of the 10 worst accident spots 3 were on State Roads, this left 7 intersections on roads owned and maintained by the City of Orlando.
The intersections with cameras installed are: Conroy Road and Vineland Road, East Michigan Street and Dixie Belle Drive, Lee Vista Boulevard and South Goldenrod Road, South Westmoreland Drive and West South Street, Turkey Lake Road and Wallace Road, West Kaley Street and South Division Avenue, and North Magnolia Avenue and East Concord Street.
Way back in 2001/2 when we first started collecting the locations of speed and red light cameras we had some long and often heated debates about including Red Light Cameras in the database. Some people took the view that you should not go through red lights and if you did you deserved to be fined, this (of course) could be argued for speed cameras as well...
I took a slightly controversial viewpoint in that Red Light Cameras are installed at notorious accident spots and as such being warned about the junction meant I am on the lookout for people running the red lights. Forewarned is forearmed as the saying goes.
The Red Light Cameras are hated in America by one set of road users and loved by another group. Running Red Lights is endemic in some parts of America and to some drivers is almost regarded as a constitutional right. Certainly they are being contested in the courts as being unconstitutional.
To a certain extent one can almost understand why people go through red lights. The length of time you have to wait to go through sometimes up to six sequences can take about 4 minutes, so the temptation is there to just nip across before the traffic starts on the other side. However the carnage as a result of a bad decision can leave an innocent family suffering the consequences of this illegal action.
However, some research shows that Red Light Cameras actually increase the likelihood of accidents (Virginia DOT). These are mainly rear-end bumps rather than the more dangerous head on or side impact crashes.
In any case the Law is the Law and if you are caught running the lights you are liable to a fine. To a certain extent the Red light Cameras are no different to having a policeman at each of these intersections. The only difference is that you have photographic evidence and not just the word of a law enforcement officer. The fine is a strange figure, $183 if I remember correctly.
If you are a Brit on vacation in The Land of Mickey Mouse and you run the red light then you will be fined. The rental company will be charged the fine and they will pass it along to your credit card.
As usual we have a short video to accompany this article. Click here to watch our quicktime video of the red light cameras in Orlando. Or click here for our Windows Media player Red Light camera movie.