WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Red light cameras are said to help cut down on accidents.
The Contact 5 Investigators discovered red light cameras are catching more than just every-day drivers running red lights and tracked down how many government workers have been captured on video.
In one instance, seconds after a car makes a turn and seconds after the light turns red, a 40-foot Palm Tran bus rushes through the intersection. The Contact 5 Investigators found this happening time and time again.
"It's scary," one local Palm Beach County driver said after viewing the video of the Palm Tran bus running the red light. "It's really scary a lot of people could have lost their lives because of that."
A West Palm Beach police officer agrees. "It's scary thinking a truck that size going through a red light," officer Ryan Secord said.
The average Palm Tran bus weighs 22,000 pounds and takes longer to stop than a car. "30 feet can be the difference between t-boning a vehicle and hitting another vehicle head on," Secord said.
The Contact 5 Investigators showed some of the more recent videos of Palm Tran bus drivers running red lights to Palm Tran Director Chuck Cohen. After seeing one of the videos, Cohen said, "it looks like the driver made a good decision."
Since the cameras went up in Palm Beach County three years ago, Cohen's drivers have had almost 50 violations. "I'm not even sure that would show up on a baseball bating average anywhere," Cohen said. "It's a ridiculously small percentage."
A total of 15% of Palm Tran drivers have received tickets. A figure, Cohen says, he's not surprised by. "It's gonna happen," Cohen said. When "you spend a lot of time out on the road."
Some Palm Tran drivers have had multiple tickets. Five-year veteran driver David Quatro is one of them and admitted to Contact 5 Investigators that running red lights can be dangerous.
Another driver, Ed Guthy, also has had two red light camera violations while behind the wheel of a Palm Tran bus. One instance happened while running a red light on Federal Highway.
"I've never gone through a red light," Guthy said. "It's always been a yellow light and the bus hasn't cleared the intersection." But, when the Contact 5 Investigators showed Guthy the video, he changed his mind.
"That looked red," he said.
Police say it all comes down to the white line in the intersection. The white line is where the intersection begins. According to police, if your tires go over the line when the light is red, you're going to get a ticket.
"It's a double edged sword," Guthy said. "You can't slam on the brakes and risk injury to the people in the back."
Drivers say they are trying to avoid slamming on their brakes and having people fall forward in the back of the bus. Whether or not to brake hard and risk passengers following or going through a red light is a decision Cohen said his drivers take very seriously.
If Palm Tran driver do receive a ticket, they have to pay it on their own. The drivers also get a one day suspension without pay for every ticket they receive.
Some of the violations received were dismissed in court. And while Palm Tran drivers had the most out of the government workers the Contact 5 Investigators looked at in Palm Beach County, they were not the only ones receiving violations.
The Contact 5 Investigators found some violations from Palm Beach County School District employees, Delray Beach Police Department employees and one in the Town of Palm Beach.