Uptick in red light camera traffic citations as Hillsborough drivers return to roads after pandemic

Hillsborough County

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot of habits over the past year. Everything from going out to eat to the morning commute shifted to remote work, fewer drivers, and more to-go orders.

While recent reports from the Florida Department of Transportation showed that having fewer drivers on the road during the pandemic accelerated construction project timelines, it also hit the state with lower revenues from traffic citations and other funding sources related to driving.

One big revenue source in Florida is the money paid for traffic citations, such as running red lights or speeding. Hillsborough County, and Tampa as an extension, saw lower numbers of citations from drivers running red lights, particularly with citations sourced through the city’s and county’s red light cameras.

There are dozens of red light cameras across the county, the bulk of them are in the City of Tampa.

Tampa’s city government reports 55 locations with red light cameras within the city limits. Hillsborough County’s unincorporated areas have a collective six cameras, in places like Waters Avenue and Dale Mabry Highway.

Both of the other two incorporated cities in Hillsborough County, Temple Terrace and Plant City, do not have red light camera programs. Temple Terrace canceled their program in 2015. Plant City does not have red light cameras, either, though it does have some traffic sensors installed on some traffic lights.

Data from the Hillsborough County Clerk shows that the number of citations took a dive as people stayed home due to COVID-19.

In 2019, drivers running a red light and caught on camera led to thousands of citations.

The statute and citation, Florida Statute 316.075(1)C1-547, specifically described as “Red Light Camera (Municipal) – Failure to Stop at Steady Red Light,” saw over 48,000 citations in 2019 alone.

Those citations led to a total of almost $9.7 million, with the average cost to a driver ringing in at $200. That said, not all drivers faced fines and some even had higher costs instead.

The pandemic’s change of habit for workers saw a sharp decrease the immediate next year.

In 2020, the Hillsborough County Clerk data shows the area had just over 34,000 citations, and just over $5.9 million in fines. Drivers saw an average cost of about $174 fines, though not all drivers were fined, and some saw even higher fines instead.

Now in 2021, as the country, and the county, returns to a more normal life due to relaxed COVID-19 restrictions and reopenings across the state. There have already been close to 10,000 citations for running a red caught on camera, potentially getting Hillsborough County back on pace with previous citation norms.

So far, driver fines are averaging almost $68, though some are not being fined at all, and others are seeing steeper costs.

From 2019 to 2021, so far, the majority of the drivers facing citations in Hillsborough and getting caught on video are mostly men according to county records. Read through to the end to see the full specifics for how many red light camera citations were in the reports below.

In 2019, citations listed 26,357 male drivers and 21,922 female drivers who ran red lights on camera. In 2020, as drivers on the road decreased due the COVID-19 pandemic, those numbers shrank to 18,806 male drivers and 15,362 female drivers.

As of April 2, when the available data ends, 5,327 male drivers and 4,442 female drivers have been cited for getting caught on camera while running a red light.

To see if you’ve been caught on video running a red in Hillsborough, you can head online to the county’s website and look up your name to check for any pending tickets.

You can also pay any potential fines for citations online instead of going in-person. Drivers have 60 days to pay a fine, submit an affidavit to transfer liability to another driver, or request a hearing in court about the traffic violation.

By the numbers:

  • 2019 had 48,279 citations reported for 316.075(1)C1-547
  • 2020 had 34,168 citations reported for 316.075(1)C1-547
  • 2021 has 9,769 citations reported for 316.075(1)C1-547, so far

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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