City says red light cameras also help solve disputes

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Posted: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 6:30 pm | Updated: 9:04 pm, Sat Feb 8, 2014.

SARASOTA - Red light cameras remain unpopular with many drivers, who say they exist only to generate revenue. But Sarasota Police say video from one camera shows their other benefits.

Many people see them as the despised eyes in the sky; the cameras that catch red light runners mean green for municipalities that use them. In the City of Sarasota's budget, they appear as a "major source of income."

The city started using the cameras in January of 2012, and now has twenty of them. “To us, it's about safety. And we think it's going to keep our community safer and reduce the number of serious collisions,” says Chief Bernadette DiPino.

On May 28th, a red light camera on Fruitville Road caught a pickup truck blowing through a red light and smashing into a car making a left turn. The pickup driver blamed the turning car for the crash.

“And we were able to pull the video back up, and it clearly showed the driver of the one vehicle ran the red light and hit the other vehicle and, thus, was at fault,” says Chief DiPino.

Without the video, she says, police could never have proven which vehicle caused the crash. She says that whatever money the cameras bring the city is secondary to their primary goal: making people respect red lights. “In red light camera studies that have been done nationwide, they have shown that it has reduced serious crashes, especially deadly crashes or ones where serious injuries have occurred.”

And drivers might have gotten the message. Last year, in the city, cameras caught just over 4,000 red light runners. So far this year -- even with 9 more cameras added in March -- just over 1,400 have been caught.

But Chief DiPino knows that legal attacks on the cameras will continue -- but says they do the job.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • myos posted at 8:25 am on Tue, Jun 11, 2013.

    myos Posts: 3

    If safety was the prime issue then there are better ways such as delaying the time before a light turns green. There are too many instances where the municipality has shortened the yellow light time so as to generate more revenue. But don't worry because this is chump change compared to when they start using GPS to issue speeding tickets!

  • FredKang posted at 10:14 pm on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    FredKang Posts: 1

    So the bottom line is that this singular event means the whole of the camera issue is proven worthwhile. My questions would be - 1) How many tickets were issued for these violations the year prior to installing the cameras? and 2) Why are companies spending large sums of money to secure these contracts if not for the major profitability factors for both the city and themselves?

  • Barbara E Bj posted at 10:02 am on Fri, Jun 7, 2013.

    Barbara E Bj Posts: 1

    From where would the revenue come to pay for the non-revenue-generating cameras that could help out accident victims against conniving drivers in the wrong but not hold anyone else responsible for anything if he didn't hit anything? Isn't that what you are requesting here? Less expensive cameras that do not generate tickets for violating the red light but are there to prove something in case of an accident? All the benefit with none of the responsibility for the costs?

    Even the less expensive cameras would generate costs to the city. But, the red-light cameras pay their own way AND contribute to other law enforcement costs from drivers who are totally irresponsible but want to be able to get away with that lack of responsibility if there are no cops in the area.

    Scofflaws always hate things that inconvenience them in the commission of their crimes. People who actually follow the traffic laws don't have any problem with red-light cameras.

  • Target4Tyrants posted at 12:03 pm on Thu, Jun 6, 2013.

    Target4Tyrants Posts: 7

    Orwell gives this spin two thumbs up!

  • captncurtass posted at 5:13 am on Thu, Jun 6, 2013.

    captncurtass Posts: 5

    Red light runners as in the video, cool. Right turn on red light is the cash cow and entirely inappropriate.

  • Paul Henry posted at 1:23 am on Thu, Jun 6, 2013.

    Paul Henry Posts: 4

    "The city started using the cameras in January of 2012, and now has twenty of them. “To us, it's about safety. And we think it's going to keep our community safer and reduce the number of serious collisions,” says Chief Bernadette DiPino."

    OK, so you now have over a year of post-automated for-profit device crash data. Please tell us how many (in number, not percent) red light violation crashes (not rear end or fail to yield crashes) took place for the year prior and the year since the use of the devices. Please also share the amount of yellow light time for both periods.

    Note that this crash is the perfect example of why automated for-profit law enforcement cannot reduce red light violation crashes. The pickup was nearly 3 seconds into the red when the crash took place, and never braked until the other vehicle was in front of the pickup. The driver, who in this case was properly ticketed by an officer (which does not happen in automated for-profit law enforcement), was obviously inattentive.

    Crash investigations such as these can be assisted by normal not-for profit and far less costly traffic cameras. Of course those cannot use the force of Florida government to ensure the profitability of an out-of-state company that spends $525,000+ paying off politicians and political groups since 2008.

    The Liberty First Network is leading the fight in Florida against red light cameras in 2014. Visit and support us at


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