Confusion surrounds Tampa Bay's red light cameras - WFLA News Channel 8

Confusion surrounds Tampa Bay's red light cameras

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Lakeland Police Officer Scott Wisneski review all red light camera violations. Lakeland Police Officer Scott Wisneski review all red light camera violations.
LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

Think you know the rules of the road? What about when it comes to red lights?

If you're driving through an intersection, and the light turns from yellow to red right above you,  have you run the light?

What about if you've just crossed the stop bar?

With red light cameras catching violators in more than 70 Florida communities law enforcement officials say it's pretty clear plenty of drivers are more than a little confused about the law.

"I think a lot of people don't have a clue if they're running a red light or if they're not," said Officer Scott Wisneski who reviews all red light violations caught on camera in the city of Lakeland.

Lakeland currently has 18 red light cameras that Wisneski says catch more than 2,500 red light violators every month.

Click here for: Tampa Bay red light camera locations

"We get a lot of calls here to the office from people thinking 'oh my gosh I ran a red light', and when we look up their files they didn't. And then we get people who call us who do have violations and go 'there's no way I ran that red light', Wisneski said.

Turning right on red causes most of the confusion. Wisneski says red light camera review gives communities some discretion.

He says as long as a driver makes the turn in a slow and cautious manner the turn won't result in a violation.

By contrast, if a police officer at an intersection sees a motorist essentially roll right on red, without coming to a complete stop behind the white stop bar, a citation can and often will be issued.

Wisneski says there are some frequently asked questions that relate to red light running.  Here's a breakdown:

What is a red light violation?

A red-light violation occurs when a motorist enters an intersection after the traffic signal has turned red. However, motorists already in the intersection when the signal changes to red, waiting to turn for example, are not considered red-light violators.

What if my car is already in the intersection on a yellow light, but the light turns red before I leave the intersection:

That is not a red light violation. A violation only occurs when a driver enters the intersection, crossing the stop bar, after the signal turns red.

What about turning left?

The law is the same for turn lanes. If a driver is already in the intersection on a green or yellow light and has crossed the stop bar before the signal turns red there is no violation.

Related Content: Hillsborough County's Red Light Cameras
Related Content: Lakeland's Red Light Camera Program FAQ's

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