Miami Herald | EDITORIAL

Red-light cameras a go


OUR OPINION: Cameras at Miami intersections improve safety

Even drivers who loathe them — and there are a considerable number in greater Miami — might one day have their lives saved because of red-light cameras.

Indeed, drivers in various cities with cameras might already have gotten from Point A to Point B in one piece because another driver who might have run the light stopped instead, thanks to those pesky cameras.

When Miami city commissioners meet Thursday, they should not let the nuisance factor outweigh that of safety. Commissioners will consider whether to create a municipal appeals process in which drivers who want to challenge a red-light fine can do so at City Hall, instead of in county court.

The Legislature approved this revision during its most recent session. Commissioners should now follow through and give it their OK, too. Doing so will make the streets safer, save red-light violators money, help fund two worthy and related causes and, yes, produce revenue for the city. This last result is the most common complaint by drivers who think the cameras are simply a municipal cash cow.

But that’s not the whole story. According to City Manager Johnny Martinez, Miami’s 148 red-light cameras, placed at 92 intersections, have modified many drivers’ bad behavior. Crashes caused by people scooting through a light that just turned red have decreased — though he could not say whether the same has happened with rear-end fender benders. That reduction alone — sparing drivers the risk of a deadly T-bone crash — is enough to maintain the cameras.

Currently, drivers who appeal a fine must pay $119 in court costs on top of the $158 fine if they lose. But if commissioners approve the municipal magistrate proposal, those drivers will pay somewhere between $50 and $85 for the appeal to be heard.

As for revenue raised, out of each $158 fine paid, the state and city split about an equal share with $10 going to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s trauma center and $3 to The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. From the city’s take, ATS, the Arizona-based company that provides the cameras gets 40 percent, the city the rest.

Last year, fines added up to $5.8 million in the city; of that, $2.2 million went to ATS.

The question before city commissioners is a simple one. However, red-light camera advocates are concerned that opponents on the dais will use the opportunity to overreach and do away with cameras altogether. Mayoral candidate Francis Suarez is one of those foes, having received two red-light tickets himself. According to records, one was dismissed, another remains unpaid.

Commissioners should stick to the task before them. They should create the magistrate appeal process, and refrain from “fixing” the red-light camera program. It’s not broken.

Read more Editorials stories from the Miami Herald

Janet Ray speaks to the Miami-Dade County Commission during a meeting in July. The public can speak about the budget at Thursday’s meeting.

    Miami Herald | EDITORIAL

    Budget comes to the rescue

    OUR OPINION: Libraries, police will stay whole — was all that panic necessary?

Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, Charlie Crist’s running mate, signs a petition in Clearwater to let undocumented immigrants get driver’s licenses.

    Miami Herald | EDITORIAL

    The drive for common sense

    OUR OPINION: Grant undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses

  • Miami Herald | EDITORIAL

    Filling the bench

    OUR OPINION: The selection of judges a problem in the Florida gubernatorial race

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category