CORAL SPRINGS (CBS4) – The debate over red light cameras intensified this week as one South Florida city moves to take down its’ cameras and another will begin to put them up.
City officials in Hialeah passed a first vote Tuesday to remove it’s cameras.
In a statement, Mayor Carlos Hernandez said, “Residents feel this program is just another form of taxation. It is important that we, as elected officials, listen to our citizens and act in benefit of our community.”
And therein lies the controversy — are the cameras primarily a revenue source for cash-strapped cities or a legitimate safety feature that will prevent accidents and save lives?
The measure still has to pass a second vote later this month in Hialeah.
Most drivers in Hialeah who spoke with CBS 4 supported the move.
Milene Melvin did not.
“Traffic in Hialeah is crazy,” Melvin said. “Anybody who lives here can attest to that. If this is making everybody drive safer and slowing down once they get to the red lights than I’m all for that.”
Next week the city of Coral Springs will begin installing its’ cameras. The city will place the cameras at intersections with the highest amounts of red light runners and severe accidents caused by red light running. A total of seven cameras will be installed by the end of the year.
Two of the intersections where the cameras will be placed: University Drive and Riverside Drive and Sample Road and Riverside Drive.
The city will have a 30-day warning period for drivers. After that, the cost of a citation will be $158.
City officials say the cameras are being installed for safety purposes.
Most drivers we spoke with believe the cameras are needed.
“I think it’s protecting the citizens because a lot of people run the red lights and maybe it will be a deterrent,” said Jacqueline Brock.
Driver Robert Senatti agreed.
“You got a bunch of idiots out here that just like to run the red lights,” he said. “I think it’ll slow everything down.”
But others feel the cameras are a cash cow for the city.
“I think it’s about the city making money,” Bobby Brown said. “It’s always going to be about money.”
Studies suggest the cameras do prevent accidents and save lives. But there are questions over how much revenue they generate for cities.
Cities have to share the money from a ticket with the state and the companies which operate the cameras.
Even the Florida legislature couldn’t agree on what to do with them.
The Florida House passed a bill this year to repeal the red light cameras but the measure failed when the Florida Senate failed to vote on it.