Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Feb. 15: Clean Up Red-Light Mess

By Sylvia Gurinsky

One red-light camera at a dangerous intersection is safety at work. Four within a three-mile area is ridiculous.

Miami Gardens is among the South Florida cities that have gone straight to ridiculous, with those four cameras in an area along 27th avenue ranging from what I call Joe Robbie Stadium (199th Street) to the messy entrance to the Palmetto Expressway at 167th Street. That's not counting the camera in next-door Opa-Locka at 135th Street.

A public notice by Miami Gardens states, "The City’s goal is to prevent serious injuries or deaths as a result of motorists running red lights in the City of Miami Gardens."

Fine and good, but the city has other traffic safety problems - like those jaywalkers who've been running for their lives across 27th avenue for decades. Does Miami Gardens have any plan to deal with them?

In any case, Miami Gardens' actions are symbolic of the actions of most cities that are posting red-light cameras at many intersections, major or not: While arguing that it's for safety, it's really for the money brought by those who run red lights.

At least those who haven't gone to court to challenge their tickets. Many of those who have, particularly in Miami-Dade County, have been getting those tickets thrown out for various reasons.

One of those reasons could theoretically be taxation without representation. The biggest campaigners for the red light cameras have been municipal governments struggling with their budgets. There is no conclusive proof as yet that the presence of the cameras has improved safety at intersections.

The Florida Legislature needs to go ahead and pull the plug on red-light cameras - for now. The problem is not that they exist. It's how cities are using them.

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