County getting word to snowbirds about red-light running cameras

10 things to know about red light cameras

Commissioners discuss red-light running cameras

Decision made to reduce fines in Collier ...

Here are the intersections where red-light cameras are in place in Collier County:

-- Eastbound Pine Ridge Road at Airport-Pulling Road

-- Westbound Pine Ridge Road at Airport-Pulling Road

-- Northbound Airport-Pulling Road at Davis Boulevard

-- Eastbound Pine Ridge Road at Livingston Road

-- Westbound Pine Ridge Road at Livingston Road

-- Northbound Airport-Pulling Road at Immokalee Road

-- Eastbound Immokalee Road at Airport-Pulling Road

-- Northbound Collier Boulevard at Golden Gate Parkway

-- Eastbound Golden Gate Parkway at Collier Boulevard

-- Eastbound Immokalee Road at Livingston Road

-- Westbound Pine Ridge Road at U.S. 41 North

-- Westbound Vanderbilt Beach Road at U.S. 41 North

If the tens of thousands of seasonal residents and tourists who roll into town in the coming months have the sneaking suspicion that they’re being watched, that’s because they are.

By red-light running cameras, at least.

So far, most of the activity involving Collier County’s new red-light running cameras has occurred when most seasonal residents were at home up north. The cameras were approved by the Collier County Commission in April 2008, and the installation began this past April. It’s safe to say that many part-time residents and tourists who don’t follow the news in Naples during the summer may not know about the cameras.

So as not to catch anybody by surprise, county officials are taking steps to make sure they do. See an interactive map of all the intersections with red light cameras in Collier County

“I think the outreach is aimed at letting people know that cameras are in use at certain intersections and not so much that running a red light is against the law, which I think everyone understands,” county spokesman John Torre wrote in an e-mail.

To inform the seasonal residents, Torre said the county is distributing informational flyers at all beach sticker distribution locations, libraries, parks and at the North Collier Government Center, and included an article about the cameras in the latest Homeowners Association newsletter. The county is also using electronic roadside message boards on U.S. 41, Livingston Road, Immokalee Road, Golden Gate Parkway and Collier Boulevard.

“We also may include program information as an insert in an upcoming monthly water bill cycle,” Torre wrote.

Jane and George Palmer, who have been coming down to Florida in January for about 20 years, decided to make the trip a little early this year. They recently learned about the red-light cameras from a friend.

“We wouldn’t have known otherwise,” Jane Palmer, 71, said.

The Palmers, who live most of the year in Braintree, Mass., said informing part-time residents “can’t hurt,” and George Palmer, 74, said it may make people more cautious on the road. They suggested the county take out ads in local newspapers and run commercials on television.

Don Clarke, 63, of London, Ontario, agreed that informing seasonal residents about the cameras could help make them aware of their own bad driving habits. Clarke, who has been coming to Collier County with his wife for 20 years, said he learned of the cameras from friends at his tennis club.

“I don’t have any problem with them. I think they’re a good idea,” Clarke said. “People are habitually running red lights down here, certainly more than back home.”

The county is also taking steps to notify tourists.

The Tourism Department’s most recent newsletter encouraged hotels and other tourism industry businesses to download and distribute a red-light running flyer, Torre said. The county is also working with the Collier Lodging Association and will be distributing flyers to local rental car agencies.

“We want to make sure that people have a fond memory of their visit to the Collier County area, versus a ticket,” said JoNell Modys, spokeswoman for the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We don’t want that to be the last impression of our destination.”

Bob Davis, of Vancouver, Wash., who vacationed in Naples recently, didn’t know about the cameras. He said it would be a good idea to inform visitors, especially for an economy dependent on tourists.

“Why would you upset people?” he asked.

However, Ron Polzer, 56, who visited recently from Ohio, didn’t think a red-light camera campaign was necessary.

“You shouldn’t be running red lights,” he said. “If you do, you should get caught.”

For its part, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office is hosting an educational campaign on red-light safety, including sending out 90,000 flyers in Valpak mailers and distributing bookmarks at local libraries.

There are currently 12 red-light cameras in place at eight intersections in Collier County. The county is slated to have 24 red-light running cameras in place by February 2011. Through Nov. 12, the county has issued 11,251 citations since ticketing began at the end of May.

Though it wasn’t the intent of county commissioners, the majority of citations that have been issued have been for people who roll through right turns on red. In October the County Commission reduced the cost of the citations from $125 to $62.50 for a first offense, $75 for the second, and $100 for the third.

Commissioner Donna Fiala, who chairs the Tourism Development Council, said she doesn’t want to chase off any winter residents or visitors because of the cameras.

“Our winter residents, its amazing, not only do they give our businesses an boost, which is wonderful, but they’re a great volunteer core,” Fiala said. “They’re a great asset to us and I want to make sure they’ll keep coming back again and again and again.”

Connect with Ryan Mills at

© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 2

Banphotoradar writes:

Hundreds of millions of American dollars have been funneled to Redflex (with its Australian shareholders) and stagnant local governments. This is money that would have been spent at local businesses, which create jobs. Consumers also avoid areas with the cameras.

Residents of Heath, Ohio and surrounding areas responded to photo enforcement by boycotting local businesses and eventually voting out photo enforcement and the city council members responsible for the implementation of it. You can read their responses to the cameras at the link below:

Duane Goodwin, who helped put the referendum on the city ballot, cited Redflex traffic counts that showed 58,754 fewer automobiles had traveled on camera-monitored roads -- a 27 percent decrease in traffic -- as a result of out-of-town motorists avoiding the cameras by shopping elsewhere.

"Our little town revolves around business," Goodwin said. "It's a crushing blow."

A survey of six national chain stores that operate in Heath as well as nearby Lancaster and Zanesville showed that Heath sales were off nearly 14 percent compared to a 2 to 3 percent drop in the other cities.

The city of Schaumburg, Illinois found itself in hot water when locals and out of towners vowed to stop shopping at the Woodfield Mall unless the right turn camera was turned off. The village stopped monitoring right turns at the intersection in January.

Loma Linda, California Councilman Rhodes "Dusty" Rigsby urged his fellow council members this past week to cancel the city's contract with Red flex Traffic Systems. He said the $450 fines imposed on violators since the cameras were installed in January 2006 have generated $12 million in revenue for the courts and the city, "Is $12 million drained out of the economy of Loma Linda and our visitors worth the aggregate accident reductions that we saw?"

Councilman Ovidiu Popescu echoed Rigsby's sentiments

"I have heard it over and over again: 'I no longer like coming to Loma Linda because of the red-light cameras,' " Popescu said. "There are people who stopped going to the doctor in Loma Linda because of red-light cameras. There are people who avoid certain streets and go to other streets, cause more problems, because of red-light cameras."

Think the cameras aren’t hurting your local businesses - think again.

u2cane writes:

Why should the county spend money to warn these people (who can't drive anyways, like they ever pay any attention to signs or other drivers on the road)? It's been against the law for some time now, they just decided to start enforcing it. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

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