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Launching a Red-Light Camera Program

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2012
2 pages
This article describes the successful creation of an automated red-light enforcement program in Gulf Breeze, FL.

A spike in traffic accidents prompted the city to consider using traffic cameras. Gulf Breeze's location on U.S. Route 98 makes it a main route for motorists driving from Pensacola across the bay bridge to Fairmont Peninsula. In addressing the problem, a traffic safety task force was formed. It was composed of citizens, traffic engineers, businessmen, and police officers. The analysis of traffic accidents determined that high percentages were occurring in intersections and turning points. Red-light camera enforcement was one of the task force's recommendations; however, at the time, Florida did not have enabling legislation that would allow traffic cameras. Gulf Breeze enacted a red-light camera enforcement ordinance that allowed the installation of cameras, the issuing of traffic violations (the equivalent of a parking ticket), and the imposition of civil fines. No points are incurred on the driver's license, and offenses are not reported to insurance companies. The city installed a stand-alone system that could not interact with the equipment of the State Department of Transportation in any way. The camera system selected detects changes in the light optically. An "on-again-off again" schedule of camera operation determined that there was a correlation between the cameras being operational and a reduction in the number of accidents. Accidents began to increase when the cameras were removed and then stabilized when they became operational again. Other traffic enforcement strategies have also contributed to the reduction in accidents. Police validate every violation before it is sent to the violator. Motorists caught by the cameras receive a copy of a still photo that shows the violation. The notice also includes an Internet link and a password so the car owner can view a video of the violation.

Date Published: February 1, 2012