One thing I never read about in these stories are actual numbers of red light running crashes (not "related crashes"). My first question:Why is it the crash data is all of a sudden here now that the automated for-profit (AFP) devices are going away? It sounds like this same data could have been estimated back in June- if you're going to guess how many crashes took place in 2012 by doubling 6 months of data.
Next, you cannot eliminate one whole year of data and expect the analysis to be fair- especially the first year of AFP enforcement. If there was a start date for AFP enforcement, it was likely widely publicized so motorists would be aware of it. This should at a minimum be the starting date for an analysis. Ideally, you'd want the exact date an AFP device was placed in service, and analyze data for equal amounts of time before and after.
Speaking of equal time, to use St. Petersburg as an example of crash reduction is another poor decision. The report the city staff handed in initially omitted a lot of crash data. It was later learned crashes increased there after AFP law enforcement. My own review of 3 years of crash reports vs. 1 year of same for that city (this is the data they used to claim a 60% reduction in red light "related" crashes) showed a 7% increase to the average and no change from the year before AFP enforcement.
Speaking based on my 25 years of Florida police experience, red light running crashes like rear end and fail to yield crashes are impossible to predict. They are caused in the great majority by inattentive drivers, or on occasion an impaired (DUI) or reckless driver. For this reason, an intersection may have 4 one year and none the next, or 3 then 1 or 2 then 4. As a specific example, when I analyzed Hallandale Beach, one of their two automated for-profit intersections showed a reduction of 4 red light running crashes. The thing is, the other intersection a few years prior had the same reduction w/o an AFP device.
Finally: The "just don't run the light" idea would work except for the guilty until proven innocent aspect of the law. If an officer gives out a ticket, it goes to the driver directly (as it should). If an AFP device does so, it goes to the owner via the mail. Numerous mistakes have been made in Florida and elsewhere where innocent people have been ticketed and had to go to the media for relief after the city refused to look at their own evidence.
The bottom line is very few local officials have the integrity that has been shown in Collier County. The amount of money involved has caused many to forsake the oath they took when sworn into office, and to buy into the safety smokescreen when in fact the devices are for revenue.
Automated for-profit law enforcement is a bad idea, and it is un-American. Support the 2013 Florida Motorist Rights Restoration Act.
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