OLDSMAR, Fla. - Jeanine Petkov thought she was a safe driver. Until she was caught running a red light by a camera. Now, she's a big supporter of red light cameras.
"I absolutely believe that it was a good idea. Some people don't, but I do. The cameras don't lie and it makes people safer," said Petkov.
That's exactly what officials in Clearwater and Oldsmar hope to hear from drivers. More than 2,600 red light tickets were issued during August in those two cities.
Ann Stephan with the City of Oldsmar said the first month's numbers taught them something.
"We've learned that it was the right thing to do to put the cameras in place and that there are needs for safety precautions at those four worst intersections in Oldsmar," Stephan explained.
The intersection that had the most violations by far was at Tampa Rd. and SR 580 in Oldsmar; with nearly 950 violations in the month of August.
In Clearwater, Gulf to Bay at Belcher Rd. had just over 800 tickets; with a near equal amount being issued for both east- and westbound traffic on Gulf to Bay.
"I think the proof is not only in the numbers but also the videos themselves. It just shows how potentially dangerous it can be," siad Elizabeth Watts with Clearwater.
Several hundred tickets were rejected by reviewers in both cities, although most of those were for right turn on red, which is legal.
At $158 per violation, the fines total more than $400,000. Each city receives less than a third of that, with most of the money going to the state.
And while officials say safety is the main goal of the red light cameras, they hope the numbers released help educate drivers.
"It is part of a re-education process for the traffic, for the drivers to slow down and pay attention," explained Stephan.
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