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Apopka joins other Central Florida towns doing away with red light cameras

Holly Hill, Casselberry, Groveland and Clermont also got rid of red light camera

APOPKA, Fla. – With a smile on his face, Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson welcomes people back to his city who may have been afraid of their red light cameras.

"Come on back to Apopka, we'll love to have ya," the mayor said days after he fulfilled a campaign promise to get rid of the 17 red light cameras installed at intersections across the city back in 2007.

During Nelson's campaign, he said business and people told him they purposely avoided Apopka because of the red light cameras. 

"It's an outcry, people just don't want them," Nelson said.

That's why on Jan. 1 the city did not renew the contract with the red light camera contractor. Nelson said after looking at studies and the city's statistics, the cameras didn't do much to improve safety in Apopka.

"Seems like it made sense at the time, I think its outlived it's usefulness," he said. "It's no longer generating safety improvements that we thought it should, so it's time to move on."

Apopka isn't the only city ready to move on.

In recent years, Holly Hill, Casselberry, Groveland and Clermont have also said goodbye to red light cameras. 

According to the city of Clermont, "The program was ended due to citizen complaints, review of the merits of the program and preference for having Clermont police officers enforce traffic violations once the contract ended. Ending it before Jan. 3, 2017, would have resulted in additional fees. Regarding the effects the cameras may have had: Because there are so many variables, determining the effect of the cameras is difficult. At some of the intersections, traffic accidents appeared to increase. At others, it appeared they decreased. It would take further study to see what the impact of other factors had, such as increased traffic."

However, newly-elected state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, (R -Howey-in-the-Hills) filed a bill (HB 6003) that would repeal the Florida law to allow red light cameras.

"That would just get rid of it," Sabatini said. 

According to a 2017 study by the Florida Department of Transportation, traffic crashes actually increased after red light cameras were installed by 10.54 percent in the state.

Sabatini said he believes not only are the cameras not improving safety, but that some cities are taking advantage of the money gained by the tickets.

"It's a hidden tax. I think it's a program cities have devised in order to have more money and essentially give themselves raise and do fun things in these towns which is not the way to go," he said. 

Though several cities in Central Florida have decided to do-away with cameras, many are sticking with them, including Winter Park, Kissimmee, Orange County and Orlando.

In Orlando, a spokesperson said the revenue generated from red light tickets goes back to safety improvements.

"Any revenue collected after the required State/Trauma Centers/Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Trust payments are made, goes to fund transportation related safety projects and transportation safety education efforts in the City. We have no plans to end the program at this time," a city spokesperson said.

Here is the status of red light cameras in Central Florida cities and counties that have installed or removed the cameras:

Apopka

The City of Apopka installed 17 red light cameras across the city back in 2007. The mayor fulfilling a campaign promise along with an unanimous vote by the city council voted in 2018 to end the program. The city did not renew the contract and the red light cameras were shut off on Jan. 1.

Casselberry

 According to Casselberry city officials, the red-light cameras didn't last long and were removed eight or nine years ago.  The city had them at a couple of intersections.  The intersections were realigned and so the cameras had to be removed.  The police chief at the time did not recommend putting them back.

Clermont

The City of Clermont had its red light camera program from Jan. 3, 2014 to Jan. 3, 2017 at four intersections along State Road 50--12th Street, 5th Street, East Avenue and Hancock Road. City officials said the money went into transportation improvements, mainly for bettering the city’s intersections, sidewalks, increased striping and ADA compliance.  

"As for why we didn’t continue with them: In September 2014, the Clermont City Council voted not to renew the city’s contract with American Traffic Solutions, the red light camera vendor, when the contract expired Jan. 3, 2017. The program was ended due to citizen complaints, review of the merits of the program and preference for having Clermont police officers enforce traffic violations once the contract ended. Ending it before Jan. 3, 2017, would have resulted in additional fees," according to a city spokesperson.

"Regarding the effects the cameras may have had: Because there are so many variables, determining the effect of the cameras is difficult. At some of the intersections, traffic accidents appeared to increase. At others, it appeared they decreased. It would take further study to see what the impact of other factors had, such as increased traffic. The city believes the program was a success. Among other benefits, it provided data that will allow officers to more effectively monitor red-light violations in the future. Upon, ending the program, the city added an additional traffic officer to ensure the safety of drivers, cyclists and pedestrians."
 

Groveland

The city of Groveland shut down its red light camera program in 2017.

According to city officials, the state prescribed how much of the money was directed back to the state and to a separate special fund. It would take more time to see how the small remainder left was used at the City. The eastbound Orange Street, State Road 50 camera was turned on March 25, 2010. The westbound camera on Broad Street at State Road 50 was turned on July 15, 2010. Both cameras were turned off Jan. 1, 2017.

Holly Hill

According to city officials, Holly Hill did away with red light camera several years ago. No other information was provided.

Kissimmee

Kissimmee City officials installed red light cameras in August of 2011 and they are still operating. According to a spokesperson, there are no plans to get rid of them.

The city provided this link for more information.

Orange County

The process for any red-light expansion is currently on hold in Orange County.

According to a fact sheet provided by the county, currently, there are red-light cameras installed on 50 approaches at 35 intersections across the county. The locations of those cameras were determined based on crash rate statistics and community input.  The program began in February 2011 and is administered by the Traffic Engineering Division through a contract with American Traffic Solutions and enforced by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Initially, there were 10 cameras installed. In late 2013, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners approved a new contract allowing for 80 additional cameras. Orange County installed 40 of those cameras in 2014.

Orange County listed the benefits as they appear to increase intersection safety and driver awareness to “slow down” on amber and “stop” on red. The cameras have been an instrumental tool in resolving a portion of the red light running crash investigations.

Orlando

Orlando city officials launched their red light program in 2008.  A spokesperson said, "any revenue collected, after the required State/Trauma Centers/Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Trust payments are made, goes to fund transportation related safety projects and transportation safety education efforts in the City." The city of Orlando has no plans at getting rid of the program at this point.

Osceola County

Osceola County does still operate a small number of intersections under its red-light safety program which was implemented in 2014. There is not currently any action underway to change the program. Osceola County provided this website for more information.

Winter Park

According to city officials, Winter Park's red light cameras were installed in 2011.  The total fine is $158, $83 of which goes to the state. The remaining $75 goes to two funds including $73 to the city’s General Fund, and $2 to police officer training. There has not been discussion about getting rid of the cameras.


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