Letters to the Editor

Red-light cameras are essential

The Oracle editorial on April 23 titled “A Filmed Traffic Death is Still a Traffic Death” demonstrates how much education is needed on the issue of red-light cameras. Carefully calculated studies in Florida at major intersections showed more than 12,000 criminal traffic infractions in a single day. These lawbreakers were not scooting through a yellow light. Their rear tires crossed the stop stripe after the light had turned red. These were not marginal red light slip-ups, but full-on, high-speed disregard for the law. Often, more than seven vehicles roared through the intersection after the light turned red.

The camera systems take several snapshots of the tag of a vehicle clearly running a red light. Trained law enforcement officers then review the evidence and issue a ticket by mail. The Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act sets standards and allocates ticket revenue all in the name of safety. The entire purpose of the act is to deter red-light runners – in other words, to encourage compliance with traffic laws and, particularly, signals. And there is overwhelming proof that it works. Twenty-one other states are slashing red-light running rates, accidents and deaths with well-posted intersections and cameras.

An officer in a patrol car at an intersection such as Westshore and Kennedy, for example, has little chance of ever catching red-light runners. Pursuing and pulling over a scofflaw in rush hour traffic has become as difficult as it is dangerous. Besides, our police need to be solving crimes, clearing accidents and breaking up meth labs.

Cities and counties today can pass a local ordinance and begin using the cameras without standards or any requirements of how the money will be spent.

They already have in Apopka and Gulf Breeze. That’s why anyone concerned about the cameras should support the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act. Here’s another reason: the intersection where my husband died was completely closed for five hours for the investigation. That red-light runner inconvenienced thousands of other law-abiding motorists.

The bottom line is that hundreds of traffic deaths and thousands of accidents can be avoided if more motorists will stop on red. Where would this country be if we all just gave up on law breaking as inevitable?

Melissa Wandall is a Brandenton resident and the founder of the Mark Wandall Foundation.