Crash numbers questioned in red light camera debate

City Council can get rid of cameras next week

ST. PETERSBURG - Red light cameras have been up for about a year at ten St. Petersburg intersections.

Thousands have been caught running the red lights, leading to more than $700,000 in fines.

But City Council member Wengay Newton is wondering if the cameras are really helping.

The data that shows that the crashes are up by ten percent does not lend credence to the fact that we want to put nine more cameras in."

Wengay is questing why statistics involving that increase in total crashes were left out of  a 122-page report compiled by city staffers.

The report was compiled to help the council decide whether or not to expand red light camera program.
"It makes it hard to do what we do in this city without information," said Newton.

St. Pete's Transportation Director says he left out some of the crash data because he wanted to keep it to specific to accidents caused by those running red lights only.

In those cases statistics show a 25 percent drop.

"We are experiencing a reduction in the number of accidents that we would have expected to occur at each one of the intersections that are controlled by red light cameras," said Transporation Director Joe Kubicki.

Elsewhere around the state Collier County officials voted to take their cameras down after data failed to show they helped.

St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster says they are making a difference here and he's happy to give the council any information they want.

"We are transparent and there was no bamboozling. There was no attempt to hide anything, it was strictly a matter of what's relevant."

The city council has even more crash statistics to go through as they consider whether to keep the red light cameras or ditch the contract for good. They'll meet on the issue next week.
 

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