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More Red Light Cameras on the Way in St. Pete

The cameras will be placed in intersections with existing red light cameras to allow cameras to capture violators from multiple directions.

Reluctantly, Mayor Bill Foster told City Council Thursday that nine new red light cameras would be placed in St. Petersburg. 

Foster's statement came after St. Pete resident Matt Florell questioned the Mayor and Council during the open forum about yellow light times and the pending addition of new cameras. 

"Just yesterday I found out that the city is planning on adding 10 more red light cameras, even though crashes have gone up at the camera intersections we have now, and red light running crashes have gone up as well," Florell said. "What is going on in this city? Safety is not improving, the equipment is faulty, yellow light times are inconsistent, too short and changed randomly. It really is horrible how bad all of this looks, and nobody is doing anything about it."

Members of City Council became visibly upset because they said they had no knowledge the new cameras are going to be put up. 

"Are you going to inform us now or after we read it in the papers," Council Chair Leslie Curran said to Foster. "I thought we were waiting for a year that nothing would be done, then we would review and asess the program."

Foster said the city is in the process of permitting plans to add cameras in November to intersections that already have cameras, but not in all directions. 

Council member Jeff Danner said he knows adding additional cameras was part of the original agreement, but only after council received a safety report of the effectiveness of the first cameras placed around St. Petersburg. 

"We’ve learned form the pubic that more cameras are going up," Danner said. "That’s the issue, learning this on the fly. We get the heat for putting the cameras up. We (did) it because it was a safety issue. Now we are doing more without the safety data." 

He said if the cameras are not making St. Petersburg roads safer, then maybe the city should scrap the red light camera program. 

For Curran, the information omission is part of a larger problem of a communication gap between the city administration and council. 

Council voted 7-1 to hear a presentaiton about red light cameras at the Oct. 18 city council meeting. 

"Hopefully we’ll hear from the public if anything changes in the meantime," Curran said. 

Gray Areas with Yellow Lights

While Florell's comments about the additional red light cameras set off a firestorm between council and the Mayor, Florell went to council to speak about the inconsistent times of yellow lights at intersections with red light cameras. 

Below are his remarks:

The next disturbing thing I found was about yellow signal times. These
red light camera citations all document the yellow signal time, and by
logging all of these and comparing them I was able to make this chart.
The line is the intersection speed limit, and the bars are the yellow
signal time. Here is 4th and 22nd, where we have a speed limit of 35
and a yellow time of 4.1 seconds. You go up the road 2 miles to 54th
and 4th where you have a speed limit of 45, and the yellow time only
goes up one tenth of a second to 4.2 seconds, then take a look at this
slower intersection 38th and 66th, which is 40mph, but it has 5
seconds of yellow time. If safety is your primary concern, this yellow
signal time chart tells a different story.

Foster said Florell's numbers are disputable and that will be shown during the Oct. 18 report. 

Red October 05, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Sure, new cameras showing up "on their own'. Some show "violators" making turns at over 90mph, another at over 200mph! Man I want those tires. Tricky yellow light times, inaccurate speeds, extra units. .. .... send the junk back! Are they using drones yet?
g. October 05, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Remember, all those people for the city are ELECTED officials. don't forget that come their election time. How else are they going to pay for a new Pier, that we don't need, and a police station? Its time to let the leaders of St.Petersburg that life long residents of this city are getting tired of the money grab with no services!!!
CJ October 05, 2012 at 03:07 PM
That really ''is'' a very good and relevant point about how the yellow signal time varies so much. It is not so important for those of us who drive carefully...but for those who like to push the limit and barely beat the red...it makes it very dangerous for us safe drivers. We are knew here. I have been all over the world and traveled extensively. This place is the worse I have ever seen about how people will practically ''immediately'' honk their horns at you if you don't ''go'' as soon as the light turns greem...much like a timed drag race. That can get you killed here. The people who run the red lights, and there are lots of them, will ''cream you'' if you are not careful when the light turns green. ''Always'' look real well to the left and righ before you enter an intersection in this city. Try, as best you can, to ignore those horns behind you....;even though we have the double whammy here...you hve to then worry about road rage. Driving here is like a combat zone. It ''would'' help if the time of ''all'' the yellow lights was a standard amount of time.
betty October 07, 2012 at 05:11 PM
that is right CJ, if you drive safely it becomes unsafe to do so because of so many inpatient drivers who do not. Now, if we stop at the yellow afraid that if we don't we will get a huge bill in the mail we can barely afford to pay, then we have to make the instant decision, what is better to get a bill in the mail or to get REAR ENDED if we don't? Do the math. You could get killed or paralyzed if you are rear ended, these people are so anxious they would rather drive you off the road than do the speed limit. and finally what is the purpose of the yellow light in the first place if not used to either complete your passage or to stop, sounds like if the yellow turns red at the end of time it takes you to get through the yellow you will still get a ticket in the mail , even though your judgment told you that if you had attempted to stop you'd get rear ended, damned if you do and more damned if you don't. Sounds like a money making devise not a way to make things safer.
CJ October 07, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Betty. You should not stop for a yellow. You probably did not take drivers eduction to get your license. hardly anyone does anymore becasue it now costs a lot of money in highschool. I am older, and DriverEd was part of a high school diploma. It still should be. People simple don;t know the rules of driving well enough anymore. I hope you are not one of those people who stop behind the line and don't get up in the intersection to complete a left turn? I think the real concern are the people who seem to almost drive like they have a death wish...and run red lights sometimes 2 seconds after it is red. That is why we must enter intersection very carefully after the light turns green...and do it ''every'' time. It is only occasionally you get the honkers...but try to ignore them. Some things will never change.

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