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Legislature acted wrongly in banning red-light cameras

Claiming they’re a violation of motorists’ privacy and “liberty” – as Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-New Port Richey, said to the Economic Affairs Committee – the Florida House approved legislation outlawing the use of red-light cameras throughout the state Thursday, which Corcoran co-sponsored.

This foolish reasoning may gain favor with those who don’t like being photographed and ticketed for running red lights, but it should trouble responsible law-abiding Floridians who seek enhanced public safety on state roads and increased funds in the coffers of local governments that are trying to keep their budgets afloat during rough economic times.

According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report, an estimated 165,000 people are injured by red-light runners annually, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that pedestrians and motorists not violating the lights make up half of the people killed in crashes involving red-light runners.

And with Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed budget possibly cutting state spending on everything from education to state parks to benefit corporations via a reduced corporate income tax, the roughly $150 fine collected from red-light runners using the cameras is an easy way to discourage dangerous behavior and help fill the financial void.

The millions of dollars that local governments have earned from red-light cameras since the state government approved them last year are seen by many as just another way to unfairly tax citizens.

“The main goal is taxation. Taxation without representation,” bill co-sponsor Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, said to the Orlando Sentinel.

According to a report by the IIHS that studied 99 cities with populations more than 200,000 with and without red-light cameras, found that the devices saved 159 lives in 14 of the biggest U.S. cities from 2004 to 2008.

Americans should be concerned when their privacy is potentially threatened, but taking a picture of a red-light runner’s car is not a violation of any rights. Unless people have illegal tint on their windows, they’re visible to the entire public while behind the wheel and can be legally photographed by anyone’s camera, including red-light cameras that photograph the license plate and rear bumper of violators.

The cameras are already installed, making money, saving lives and only negatively affecting those who receive citations by willingly choosing to break a critical and basic traffic law.

Irresponsible state leaders who voted in favor of this senseless legislation should be ashamed of themselves for acting even more recklessly than those whose actions created the need for red-light cameras.