Red Light Cameras: Update

rlc2.jpgMy first rule about this website should have been: no series. Lakeland Local isn’t my paying gig. It also has to fall below family needs. I should have known as soon as I started the Red Light Camera series, I’d be interrupted.

Today, we’re easing back in with a report on yesterday’s Lakeland Police Department presentation to the Lakeland City Commission. You can view the full presentation online, or catch a repeat on PGTV cable channel 19.

Some important points from the presentation:

• Traffic crashes were reduced to 5,731 in 2006 from 6,071 in 2005. It seems 2005 was a extraordinarily bad year, as 2004 was similar to 2006 with 5,760 crashes. I want to squash any rumors that the uptick in crashes had anything to do with my trying to learn the streets upon arriving in Lakeland.

• Thirty-seven per-cent of the crashes were red end collisions. This is an important number to track since most RLC opponents point to an increase in rear-end collisions after red light cameras are installed.

• Over the previous 24 months there were five traffic fatalities directly related to red light running.

• The Lakeland Strategic Roadway Safety Plan is under construction by the LPD. It’s currently only a draft.

• Evidently, an officer can give you one of two tickets for running a red light. You can get cited under state law 316.075 (red light violation) or 316.074 (violation of traffic control device). The latter saves you about $63.

• Here’s how LPD wrote the citations over the last three years:

316.075 Red Light Violation

2004 221
2005 143
2006 259

316.074 Violation of Traffic Control Device
2004 2285
2005 2584
2006 2076

The presenter, Lt. Mike Link, didn’t explain why officers don’t simply cite under 316.075. I’ll ask that question the next time I meet him.

• Commissioner Howard Wiggs asked Lt. Link about the amount the city gets from traffic citations. While neither knew the exact amount, they both agreed it was “a very small amount.” Lt. Link thought it was “two to three” dollars. This most likely wouldn’t be true of fines from RLCs as they are a civil matter and are handled by the city issuing the “ticket.” The city can decide the fine and where the money would go.

• City Attorney Tim McCausland reported on the status of the pending legislation that would allow red light enforcement. It is presently in committee. “didn’t seem to be going anywhere” and indications are it is not likely to move further through the process during this session of the Legislature.

It’s important to note that doesn’t mean Lakeland can’t install RLCs. In 2006, the City of Gulf Breeze installed cameras against the opinion of the Florida Department of Transportation. They’re still in place.

• Asst Chief Bill LePere was kind enough to email me a list from the presentation. In a separate entry I’ll map Lakeland’s Top 10 Crash Locations at Signalized Intersections.

The series on Red Light Cameras will continue Thursday with information on the “players.”

Here’s are the first three entries on Red Light Cameras:
1) Series Introduction
2) Why Lakeland? Why Now?
3) The Dilemma Zone?