Violators face $158 fine as Clearwater and Oldsmar begin full-time red light-camera monitoring

CLEARWATER, Fla. - If you drive the streets of Clearwater, you should make better friends with your brake pedal.  Starting today, it will cost you $158 if one of the camera catches you running a red light.

The Gulf to Bay Blvd. and Belcher Rd. intersection cameras will be focused on east and west bound Gulf to Bay traffic. Chestnut Street at S. Fort Harrison will be monitored eastbound.

Clearwater City Councilman Bill Jonson voted for the cameras back in November, 2011.

"This is not for revenue in the City of Clearwater.  It's for safety," Jonson remarked.

In July, more than 700 warnings were sent to motorists that had been caught by the cameras.

"It's not about getting caught running red lights.  It's about making it safe for the public.  And if it does serve its purpose and make it safe for the public, then I'm all for it," said Debbie Cook, who was getting gas near the Chestnut Street intersection.

"It's about the mindset of the driver.  And the goal is to change the mindset so that they are more respectful of the red lights," explained Jonson.

Clearwater isn't the only city that has been sending out warnings for red light-runners.  Starting August 1, Oldsmar will have four intersections under the watchful eye of red light-cameras.

Gull Aire and Curlew Rd is the only intersection with cameras that is not on Tampa Rd.  But where Tampa Rd. meets State Route 580, St. Petersburg Drive, and Forest Lakes Blvd., red light cameras are ready to catch violators.

As long as the cameras are in place, the debate will go on.

Herk Andrechak of Safety Harbor is concerned about the red light cameras causing accidents.

"Take them down to save lives, because people stop and panic at these things now," said Andrechak.

The two cities join a long list of other bay area municipalities that have adopted the cameras. 

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