Saint Petersburg, Florida has officially made an agreement to allow a company to install traffic cameras in a stated attempt to decrease traffic crashes related to people running red lights.
Whether you are the type to think of the cameras as a big scary brother, or a safety net, there are a number of issues that come into play. As a Florida personal injury attorney, the issue begs questions other than the ones the public sees.
MY PERSONAL POSITION AS A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY
As of the date of this blog, my personal opinion is that I like cameras. Many of my personal injury crashes include defendants who run red lights. The defendant’s insurance company eventually hires an attorney to:
- deny it was he who ran the light,
- deny that it was a significant impact, and
- deny that the impact caused any injuries or if they did.
Here comes the big brother camera to show the jury who ran the light and show the impact. No more lying under oath. I get giddy at the thought of obtaining a commitment under oath of a defendant who claims they did not run a light, then showing the video to a jury. It will happen and I cannot wait.
MY POSITION ASIDE – LET’S BRING IN THE ISSUES!
A couple of issues to consider in the car, motorcycle, truck, and semi – tractor-trailer crashes in St. Petersburg and while we are at it, Tampa, which also has cameras:
1) Will the traffic cameras really affect the number of car crashes?
Of course, the company that provides the cameras says a resounding “yes.” However, there is a growing number of people who question the numbers. Their argument is that the vast majority of people who run lights are far more worried about a car crash than a ticket, but they run the lights accidentally.
Furthermore, when someone does run a light intentionally, they do so in the middle of the night when no one is watching, or are just a little late getting through the light. In either case, no crash is caused. Importantly, when you only install a few of the cameras, the tickets come so sporadically that it takes years before the general public ever even hears about them. We will soon know for certain.
2) Was profit the real reason for installing the cameras?
Here goes the good part. Even a few cameras in St. Petersburg will raise nearly a million dollars per year in profit for the city. That was a major selling point by the company that installs, monitors, and maintains the cameras. They will split all profit 50/50 with the city.
Why does that sound wrong to you? I’ll take a shot: The government enforcing its laws to raise money for itself rather than the betterment of society is simply not a good habit to get into if you like your freedom. Just something for us to think about.
Herman & Wells, P.A.is a law firm that handles personal injury lawsuits for the injured and their families in Pinellas and surrounding areas of Florida.