More than 22 percent of the nearly 34,000 red-light violations recorded at the six Tampa Bay intersections outfitted with red-light cameras occurred at the entrance to Westfield Brandon, according to a review of statistics provided by the by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
The review shows that on average, 17 motorists run red lights every day at the Brandon Town Center Drive and Brandon Boulevard, making ranking it the third most dangerous crossroads for red-light runners at intersections outfitted with cameras by the county.
The cameras captured 7,589 instances of drivers ignoring lights between Jan. 1 2010 and Feb. 28 2011, according to the sheriff’s report.
“We’ve even had the same people cited multiple times,” said Cpl. Troy Morgan, who oversees the sheriff’s office’s red-light camera program. "I talked to one driver and she just didn’t understand it. I eventually had to advise her to take another route.”
In all, the red-light cameras captured 33,966 red-light violations at the six Hillsborough intersections.RED-LIGHT CAMERA VIOLATIONS Jan. 1, 2010 through Feb. 28, 2011 INTERSECTION No. of Violations Percentage of Total Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and Fletcher Avenue 9,070 26.70% Waters Avenue and Dale Mabry Highway 7,625 22.45% Brandon Town Center Drive and Brandon Boulevard 7,589 22.34% Waters Avenue and Anderson Road 6,110 17.99% Bell Shoals Road and Bloomingdale Avenue 2,830 8.33% Sligh Avenue and Habana Avenue 742 2.18% TOTAL 33,966 Source: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
Motorists might avoid getting nabbed on the scene after running a red light but the law makes sure they pay up with a $158 fine. Of that, $75 goes to the county or city where the violation occurred with the remainder going to the state.
The company that installed the cameras — American Traffic Solutions, in Hillsborough County — is paid $4,750 per month, per camera. The company maintains 10 cameras at the six intersections.
Tampa, St. Petersburg and Oldsmar recently voted to install red-light cameras. Temple Terrace already has the cameras in place.
Morgan said he has no doubt the cameras make drivers more vigilant and help to save lives. “Obviously, the cameras are not making the situation worse,” said Morgan, who points to statistics that show the number of crashes at the six monitored intersections has fallen from 395 in 2008 to 270 in 2010.
The number of accidents with injuries at the same intersections has been caught in half over the same time.
“The cameras are doing what they were intended to do and that is to make people more aware so they modify their behavior,” he said. "The cameras also do something law enforcement cannot do and that is provide 24-hour, 365-day-a-year coverage.”
Florida legislators last year passed a law permitting the use of red-light cameras. A vote this year put their use in jeopardy. The May 2 vote sent the repeal bill (HB 4087) to the Florida Senate where it stalled in committee.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Richard Corcoran, a New Port Richey Republican, believes the law is merely a gravy train for the companies who provide the cameras. Corcoran has not yet decided if he will reintroduce the legislation.
“We are going to look at all our options and decide later down the line,” said Jared Ochs, Corcoran’s legislative assistant May 11. The state legislature reconvenes in January 2012.
“Unfortunate,” is how Morgan described the possibility of losing the cameras.
“You can go the sheriff’s office Website and watch the videos of drivers running red lights and judge for yourself. I think any reasonable person would see the need for the cameras after watching these videos.”