Red Light Running Remains Serious Threat in Palm Beach


Authorities recently arrested a man accused of leaving the scene of a West Palm Beach crash after failing to stop for a red light on Jog Road. He reportedly struck a 42-year-old moped driver attempting to turn left.

The moped driver was transported to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Just three months after Palm Beach County commissioners opted to stop the use of traffic light cameras to catch red-light runners, the problem continues. The cameras are meant to be a deterrent for would-be red-light runners, but the risks persist, with or without them.

The move was in response to a ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal, which ruled against the use of red light cameras in Hollywood. The court found the city violated state law by relegating the issuance of traffic citations to a private company.

The judge in that case gave Hollywood until Jan. 7 to resolve all pending cases, or else the pending cases would be dismissed.

Weighing this ruling, Palm Beach commissioners agreed not to renew the county’s contract with the private company provider, even as they conceded the cameras likely helped save lives. Those against the cameras argued they were an intrusion that breached the constitution and amounted to an unfair money-making scheme for local governments.

But the commissioners’ decision only affected those cameras that were county-run. Others continue to operate in Boynton Beach, Boca Raton and Juno Beach. West Palm Beach separately suspended its use of the cameras.

Recently, the West Palm Beach magistrate judge overseeing the Hollywood case made good on his promise, tossing more than 250 pending red-light traffic citations issued based on pictures taken by the cameras.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, running a red light is the top catalyst for crashes occurring in urban areas.

Annually, 165,000 people are injured as a result of red-light running, and at the average urban traffic light, there is a red-light runner ever 20 minutes.

In the last decade, an estimated 9,000 people have been killed in the U.S. as the result of drivers who failed to stop for red lights.

Just recently in Tampa, a 14-year-old boy was killed by a red-light runner who moments earlier had evaded police attempting to stop him because he was allegedly speeding and driving recklessly. The driver was operating with a suspended license and just last year had racked up a litany of other traffic violations as well.

More than half the people killed by red-light runners are not the person who ran the red light. The overall economic impact of these crashes is greater than $230 billion annually.

A report issued by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles earlier this month indicated total red-light running violations were down 14 percent last year at intersections with the traffic cameras.

The DHSVM reports Florida has the third-highest number of red-light running deaths in the country, behind California and Texas.

A separate analysis conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated red-light running deaths in Florida were down roughly 30 percent from 2011 to 2012. This outpaces the nation’s decrease of 5 percent, and this was attributed largely to the fact 68 communities adopted red light cameras during this time.

However, so long as constitutional and legal issues persist, communities are likely wise to halt their use until such issues are ironed out.

Those injured in these crashes must seek experienced legal representation.

If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at (561) 347-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.

Additional Resources:

Judge tosses 253 West Palm Beach red light camera cases, Jan. 7, 2015, By Eliot Kleinberg, Palm Beach Post

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