Red Light Camera Expansion in St. Petersburg Halted

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster stopped the expansion of red light cameras after a resident shared possible problems with the timing of yellow lights.

Mayor Bill Foster has put the red light camera expansion project in St. Petersburg "on hold."

The move follows a discussion prompted by resident Matt Florell, who said he believes yellow lights at intersections in the city are too short.

During Thursday's council meeting, Foster said he wanted to look at current intersections and data before approving more cameras. Foster's statement left councilors confused about the project, because just two months ago, they said they believed the city started moving forward with adding nine cameras.

Joe Kubicki, director of transportation and parking management for the City of St. Petersburg, said they completed the permitting process and were waiting for the mayor's approval before installing the cameras.

The discussion about whether or not the city was expanding the program followed Florell's questions and concerns about the timing of yellow lights.

Sign up for the St. Pete Patch email newsletter to get our top headlines delivered to your email inbox.

Florell shared a prepared statement that singled out a driver who was issued a citation on 66th Street and Tyrone Boulevard a few months ago. Florell pointed out that the citation shows he ran the light one tenth of a second after it turned red.

"The light turned red 4.2 seconds after it turned yellow, and Mr. Lopez's tires were only inches from the stop line," he said. "So why is this a problem? Well, according to the city that light is supposed to be yellow for 4.3 seconds, and if it was, Mr. Lopez never would have run that light, and he wouldn't have received a red light camera citation," he added.

Florell stated this was not an isolated incident. "This has happened at over half of the red light camera approaches in the city, and it happened 1,645 times in the first 13 months of the program."

Council Member Charlie Gerdes thanked Florell's efforts and added that he would bring forward a new business item to increase yellow light times.

"His time and his effort have raised questions. We need to not be defensive about it. I support red light cameras, I always have and still do," Gerdes said.

It was during this discussion that Council Member Leslie Curran asked Mayor Foster, "Are we expanding the program or is it on hold?"

"I put it on hold," Foster said.

"There's a lot of discussion about red light cameras, as demonstrated here today. I looked at the data and I saw that contrary to any other report they are working," Foster said.

"So, if it is in fact working, I don't know that more is going to make it work any better. This is not about revenue, this is about giving people the mindset that they need to pay attention while they drive and anticipate stopping."

The city has issued 36,185 citations to drivers running red lights, during the first year using the red light cameras. This has resulted in $707,226 in net revenues for the city, after costs to the vendor and the state were paid.

Related Coverage

Peter J Dunlay February 08, 2013 at 05:18 PM
The timing of a yellow light is nothing more than the distance of the vehicle from the stop line travelling at the posted speed limit. This is not rocket science! The State should have included the proper formula for this when they approved the use of Red Light Cameras. Of course, with these systems being run by private companies who receive profit from each succesful citation, what is their incentive?
Patriot February 08, 2013 at 07:31 PM
Ha ha! I just paid a fine for this rip off before logging into PATCH..... as far as I am concerned this is a complete violation of the CONSTITUTION and the BILL of RIGHTS! What next? A drone following all of us around with an instant link to my SUNPASS to bang our checkbooks for going with the flow of traffic? I find it hard to understand that this theft is not being looked at by some from very sharp attorneys! Can you tell I hate these lousy cameras?
Rider February 09, 2013 at 01:15 PM
Fix the yellow light problem and keep the red light cameras, there is an amazing amount of drivers who run red lights and endanger too many people, including themselves...
Patriot February 09, 2013 at 03:36 PM
Rider...Spoken like a true liberal ....bonking head w/hammer here please!
Rider February 09, 2013 at 04:46 PM
Patriot....whatever.......if you don't run red lights, then there is nothing to worry about.....and just how is this stance on a bit of law and order considered liberal?...that is usually a conservative label.......
James C. Walker February 10, 2013 at 04:19 AM
For Peter J Dunlay and others. There IS a proper formula for setting yellows according to the actual approach speeds of at least 85% of the vehicles. Before July 2011 the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) required that formula to be used. From July 2011 on, FDOT changed the rules on setting yellows to allow cities to deliberately set the yellows too short for the actual approach speeds. Each driver who gets a ticket with a too-short yellow pays $158 and the state of Florida takes the first $83 (52.5%) without paying any part of the high $4,000 to $5,000 per month per camera costs. Can you connect the one DOT (pun intended) on WHY the rules were changed in July 2011 to let cities deliberately set yellows too short to cause thousands of unfair tickets to be given to safe drivers who would not trip the red by a few tenths of a second if the lights were timed properly for the actual approach speeds? Red light cameras are a for-profit business partnership between the state of Florida (52.5% of the revenue), the camera company and the city willing to deliberately mis-engineer their lights for more profits from mostly safe drivers. It is a total scam that must end. Red light cameras need to be banned so cities no longer have a financial incentive to mis-engineer their lights for more profits. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association
Patriot February 10, 2013 at 07:12 AM
Rider....Simple...You want to enforce traffic laws? Then use the tools already in place. The POLICE! Whats that? You don't have the man power? Great, cut out the corporations that builds, installs, and maintains the cameras and put a few more people to work! Just imagine all the other citations these officers could amass. Gee, then, when you get a ticket, you could go to court a face your accuser. As it is now, I have not heard of a camera showing up in court! One more thing...I will NEVER support an effort to legislate a big brother society!
Rider February 10, 2013 at 01:26 PM
I've received a ticket after running a red light and was caught on camera and I paid it. There is an option to fight it in court yet I was truly wrong and could have endangered others with this lack of judgement. The yellow light situation can be remedied and the success of the program will be enhanced when the bugs are worked out. Study results indicate that 92% of those caught by camera running red lights (re: endangering others and themselves) do not repeat this terrible practice. Patriot, why don't you start a drive to get more police on the traffic force? Perhaps you can get the money by raiding education funds or something. There isn't enough as it is and, with the human eye versus a camera, there is much more room for mistakes and malfeasance. Good luck!
Michael Keen February 10, 2013 at 05:28 PM
Once upon a time red light laws stated if you enter the intersection under a yellow you were not guilty of a red light infraction if it turned before you were completely through the intersection. Certainly that is not the case any longer. Timing your intersection travel to the 10th of a second? How can ANY reasonably thinking person not see these cameras are all about nothing but money? Changing the manadatory yellow time is proof positive this is systematic rape of the driving public!
Patriot February 10, 2013 at 06:53 PM
Rider...you say "endangering others and themselves", I say... SO! Since when did the founding fathers say the government has a right to protect one, from, ones own stupidity? You know the answer as well as I do... Fact of the matter is, if I chose to swim at beach that has sign prohibiting swimming, and I swim anyway, I don't think the government has a right to send me a 158 dollar fine with a vid of me swimming. I knew the risk! The problem is, if we allow cameras to be proof enough for a fleecing of the public wallet...where do you think this will stop? RED LIGHT CAMERAS? If you think so, you are NUTZ!
Patriot February 10, 2013 at 06:58 PM
MK: Agreed, this is nothing but taxing the people under the rues of safety! What a bunch of nonsense! I look forward to the day when someone gets fed up, and cameras are laying on sidewalks everywhere....Watch how quick they disappear if they are no longer making a profit for both the city, and the camera company!
James C. Walker February 11, 2013 at 02:32 AM
For Rider: If your ticket showed that you tripped the red within the first second of red, then you presented ZERO risks of endangering anyone for anything. Virtually every city uses a best-practice of a short all-red phase. People who trip the red in the first second of red will clear the intersection before the cross traffic gets a green, reacts, and moves into the intersection box where a crash could occur. Deliberately short yellows by about one second COULD be remedied, but are deliberately not remedied because that is where the profit lies for the three way partnerships between the state (52.5% of the take), the camera company (usually more than half of the rest of the take) and the city (that gets the dregs, and the dregs are HUGE). Red light cameras are a for-profit scam, not a safety program. Consider the videos of terrible t-bone crashes used to "sell the need" for the cameras to gullible city councils and the equally gullible public. HOW were those videos taken? They were taken by the same red light cameras that did NOT prevent the crashes. Red light cameras were never designed to prevent those crashes that are mostly caused by drivers who were DUI, heavily distracted, did not see the emergency vehicle, etc. Those drivers are not affected by the presence of the cameras. It is a scam for money, not a safety program. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association
Pamela February 11, 2013 at 03:39 AM
I drive with a camera mounted on my dash .it seem people speed up when they see yellow and run it after a five to ten seconds after red .They seem to be on phones or texting .I have seen hundred of these crazy drivers.they endanger people .I have witness red light runner getting hit by dump truck was it worth it.?the constitution was written before cars ever were in the picture.I don't think they will amend. It for a few bad drivers.If they drove sensible they would not get a ticket.I have never had a ticket from these cameras ,they have a sign thet warns the intersection has a camera.they have used these camera for years in other places.if you drive not like some aggressive impatience speed demon then you reap what you sew!
Rider February 11, 2013 at 04:35 AM
Fix the yellow light problem and if it is a deliberate and unethical method of trapping people.....get to the bottom of it and punish those implementing it......all this talk about the government encroaching on us....well, it is equally or more so...that so many people feel that they have the right to run a red light and cause bodily harm to others following the law........no more hystrionics.......my gosh, too many people are putting others at risk.......and this has to stop....
S. Ripley February 11, 2013 at 03:02 PM
I reject the “ban red light cameras” position. If properly implemented, they are a valuable tool to change poor driving behavior and improve safety. That said, the issues with yellow light timing and how these systems are funded merit legitimate scrutiny. So let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater, just yet. On a personal note, I drive 15k miles/year and frequent many of the areas monitored by RLC—never a ticket. Am I just lucky? Also- I would much rather have police officers pursuing more serious crimes than dealing with traffic offences.
Jerry Kendall February 11, 2013 at 03:59 PM
Thank you Mr. Florell. My question is why is this a surprise to our Mayor and the Council? Virtually every city to install these cash grabbers have also experienced the shortening of the yellow lights. The private company that contracts with the city is only interested in revenue. They routinely shorten the yellows to help achieve that goal. Many cities have since removed the cameras for just the reasons that have come to light in St. Pete: increased accident rates, lower revenue than expected and the embarassmnet of getting caught with the shortened yellows. Take these "new taxation" grabbers out.
Ryan Desmond February 11, 2013 at 04:30 PM
Having lived in St. Pete, and now living in Orlando, I can tell you with certainly I think the yellow lights in St. Pete are far too short. If you get a red light camera notice of violation in the mail, here is what you should know: http://longwelllawyers.com/2013/02/red-light-cameras-what-you-need-to-know
Torrey Craig February 11, 2013 at 04:48 PM
Patriot - You may hate these lousy cameras but I gotta ask why? Why do you hate them? Could it be you got you got caught with your pants around ankles as you ran a red light? That you hate to be told your actions where outside of the limits? Or you hate paying for your violation of the law? Why do you hate the cameras - Patriot?
James C. Walker February 11, 2013 at 10:51 PM
The problem, S. Ripley, is that if the cameras are set up to just cite the dangerous drivers who risk causing angle and t-bone crashes, they won't issue enough citations to even come close to paying the $4,000 to $5,000 per month per camera costs. The cameras require citing mostly safe drivers for non-dangerous technical fouls or they cannot even pay their own costs. And cities will not use the expensive cameras if they cost the city thousands of dollars out of pocket per month. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »