The City of St. Petersburg installed red light cameras at 10 intersections last year. The cameras are supposed to make you slow down, out of fear of getting a ticket. But some question whether red-light cameras are a distraction that may actually lead to an increase in crashes.
"The data that shows the crashes are up by 10 percent does not lend itself to the fact that we want to put nine more cameras in a year, and to have staff saying it would take 3 to 5 years to get real data," said Wengay Newton, St. Petersburg City Councilman. "To see what's going on, then we should wait three to five more years to put more cameras up."
Mayor Bill Foster says he believes the cameras make roads safer and he wants to install more. A recent report his staff prepared for city council indicated the program is working great. It shows the number of crashes related to red-light running decreasing.
But a new report shows the city left out a key piece of information. Total crashes increased from 298 to 328 at these intersections since the cameras went up last November.
Some city council members question whether the real motivation for more cameras is to increase the city's revenue. Thursday, city council members demanded answers.
"Whether it was an omission or what ... It's hard to make a decision for what's best for the city without all of the information," Newton said.
Foster told the council the total crash information wasn't included because this report was to measure the overall success of the program. He says the cameras have lowered red-light related crashes, but they won't stop drivers from making other bad decisions.
"There's no camera system out there will eliminate stupid drivers," Foster said.
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