Miami Drivers Split on City’s Red Light Cameras
Some Miami drivers are seeing red this week, angered by traffic light surveillance cameras that help law enforcement officials write tickets. Miami commissioners meet Thursday to decide the fate of the city’s red-light cameras and whether to create a municipal appeals process for ticketed drivers.
Along with other Florida cities, Miami installed red-light cameras at high-risk intersections to cut down on instances of reckless driving and ticket residents who fail to stop fully at red lights.
According to Miami’s City Manager Johnny Martinez, since the 148 cameras were installed, the number of T-bone crashes caused by drivers rushing through an already-red light has been reduced. These accidents have one of the highest rates of serious injuries according to the website of Spiros Law, P.C. In addition to preventing possibly fatal accidents, supporters of the red-light camera program point out that the tickets increase city revenue, which funds projects from Jackson Memorial Hospital’s trauma center to The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.
Red-light cameras have plenty of opponents, including mayoral candidate Francis Suarez, who accused the system of focusing on “generating revenue” rather than preventing accidents. Currently, a driver who receives a red-light ticket must pay a $158 fine (or $119 to appeal the ticket in court), although the proposed municipal appeals process would lower the appeals fine to approximately $50. Suarez criticized the program for bringing in $5.8 million last year. Supporters of the red-light camera program have brought attention to Suarez’s two unpaid red-light fines, tickets he claims “would not have been [given] by a police officer” and were the fault of a system expressly designed to ticket drivers.
Miami mayor Tomás Regalado, who has never received a red-light ticket, countered Suarez’s arguments and urged the city to continue the use of the cameras.
“This is about changing the driving culture and reducing the number of accidents,” Regalado said.