Red light cameras in Florida may come to a House vote in the Florida Legislature today. The controversial issue of red light cameras has inspired impassioned debate and the fate of the camera system lies in the balance. Proponents of red light cameras argue that they save lives and provide an incentive for drivers to avoid running red lights. Opponents counter that the cameras are primarily a revenue generating source for Florida’s cities and towns.
Joe Henderson noted in his Florida Politics blog that “Red-light cameras, on the other hand, appear to contribute to crashes as well as being the aforementioned cash grab. The News Service of Florida reported in a four-year study of 148 intersections with cameras, across the state, crashes increased by more than 10 percent.” Henderson’s point is hard to dismiss especially given his premise that the real culprit is distracted driving, particularly distracted driving that comes from texting. The authors wonders why legislators are wasting so much time, energy and money on the red light cameras when the real issue concerns the issue of distracted driving. There are 46,000 Florida car accidents attributable to distracted driving. That accounts for 12% of all the car crashes in the Sunshine State. In spite of this, police officers can’t ticket a texting driver unless the officer can stop the offending driver for another offense.
Texting while driving is a ubiquitous problem not only reserved to young drivers. I’ve witnessed older adults texting while driving on many occasions. If this is such a big problem, why aren’t legislators focused on making texting while driving a primary offense with stiff penalties? It seems to me that discussion concerning red light cameras could be tabled in order to deal with the more pressing issue-texting while driving.