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Jeff Brandes makes another run at ending red-light cameras

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State Sen. Jeff Brandes has never been shy about his dislike of red-light cameras.

Last year, the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability released a stinging report on how local governments use the cameras.

In response, Brandes filed legislation to rein in their use.

“There are perverse incentives inherent in the red-light camera program,” he said at the time.

Although the proposal did not make it in 2014, Brandes takes another run at the cameras Tuesday.  He seeks to amend two transportation bills — SB 1184 and SB 1554currently in the Senate Transportation Economic Development and Tourism Committee.

Proposed changes will mandate using red-light camera fines for public safety programs and allowing the Department of Transportation to inspect the cameras.

Red-light cameras cost local governments up to $4,750 per camera per month. OPPAGA found that since 2010, revenue from red-light camera citations has increased 200 percent to more than $119 million. Violators must pay a $158 penalty.

In addition to directing the money to safety programs, Brandes’ amendments would also provide the FDoT authority to inspect red-light cameras.

More than 70 communities use the cameras to catch violators but just 15 accounts for half of the revenue raised from fines.

“We need to get rid of red-light cameras in this state,” Brandes said last month. “Multiple reports have clearly shown that accidents have actually gone up at these intersections. I think it is a failed experiment.”

The OPPAGA report found that rear-end and other collisions increased 11 percent after the cameras were allowed statewide in 2010.  Deaths dropped in half from 37 to 19.

While Brandes attempts to amend two bills in the TED committee, the House Economic Affairs Committee will also be talking cameras. It will take up HB 7071, which has provisions closely resembling Brandes’ amendments.

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