Concerns over privacy sink red light cameras in committee vote

LAKE WORTH, Fla. - The state house took the first step in banning the controversial cameras just a few years after they approved them.

Red light cameras got a yellow light Thursday.

The economic affairs committee voted 10-8 to ban the cameras after a contentious morning debate.

Drivers like Mike Bowers of Boynton Beach say they don't like the cameras because they feel as though their privacy is being violated.

"I open up the mail and saw the picture," said Bowers.

Joe DeLuca of Lake Worth is also concerned about privacy.

"I think it's big brother watching everything you do," said Joe.

In Palm Beach, there are 51 cameras in six cities. West Palm has seven cameras that nab 500 runners a month.

Boynton Beach says they've caught an average of 1,500 since August.

Statewide, more than more than one million $158 dollar citations have been handed out in a year's time.

Bowers says his friends have opened mail to find tickets he got while driving their cars.

"You don't know who is driving, who is in your vehicle," said Bowers.

But advocates point to safety improvements since cameras were installed.

The company that makes the cameras - American Traffic Solutions - says crashes like these have decreased since cameras went in at 56 percent of the intersections, while increasing at only fifteen.

But even State Rep Irv Slosberg - who has made traffic safety his number one issue - can't say how he'll vote if a repeal gets to the full floor.

"I'm a traffic safety guy, and there's a lot of benefits to photo enforcement, but I think the fines should be a lot lower," said Slosberg. "Maybe $30, $40."

This is the second time a committee has voted to repeal the law.

Slosberg says he expects a brutal battle, again.

"Fists were almost flying about this issue," said Slosberg. "It's a war. It doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or a Republican."

The bill still has several committees to get through before it has a full vote in the house.


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