State Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R–Howey in the Hills, has filed a bill that would get rid of red-light cameras in Florida for good.
Sabatini’s proposal would repeal the law allowing red-light cameras passed by the Legislature in 2010.
“They are just a taxpayer fraud scheme. They are just a way for local governments to pad their pockets and raise more revenues,” Sabatini told Florida Daily, adding that his research shows that the Department of Transportation cannot prove red-light cameras make intersections safer.
“They actually make us less safe. There’s been traffic studies conducted by various government organizations, and what they find is accidents actually go up at intersections that have red-light cameras,” he added.
Sabatini said this is because people are willing to do “erratic things” to avoid a ticket, mostly jamming on their brakes when they should not in order to keep those cameras from going off and trying to avoid a ticket for $158. Those tickets can increase to as much as $262 if not paid in a prompt manner.
Sabatini is also upset over the way camera companies operate in the state. He pointed to Apopka as an example of where a camera company had gone so far awry that the local government removed the cameras entirely.
“If you’re underneath a light as it turned red under your head, that was a ticket. If you pulled just over the white bar at the front of an intersection, just incrementally roll over it barely at all, that’s a ticket. If you took a right turn at a red light camera which is legal in Florida, sometimes you could be getting a ticket,” Sabatini said about Apopka.
He blamed overzealous local governments and their desire to raise and spend more money for the problems. Sabatini also blamed the lobbyists for the top camera companies that spent millions of dollars to get the 2010 law passed. He also said he is not worried about the revenue the state will lose from red-light cameras.
“It goes to the traffic safety fund which actually then is just wasted on some innocuous public advertising if I am not mistaken. Local governments are the ones that get the great majority of this money,” Sabatini told Florida Daily, “What we need right now with COVID is as much tax relief as possible. The more we can cut people’s daily living expenses and taxes, the more we are going to be helping them.”
Sabatini could not get this bill passed last year but is trying again. He will be opposed by many of the same groups that lined up against the bill last year, including the Florida League of Cities.
In recent years, state Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, has led the unsuccessful efforts in the Senate to repeal the 2010 law.
Reach Mike Synan at firstname.lastname@example.org.