BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
At last week’s Daytona Beach City Commission meeting, both Mayor Derrick Henry and his brother, Commissioner Patrick Henry, voted against keeping and funding the 18 red-light cameras stationed throughout the city.
Commissioners Paula Reed, Pam Woods, Kelly White, Rob Gilliland and Carl Lentz IV were in agreement to keep the cameras for another three-year term approving a contract with Gatso USA to provide assistance with the city’s Automated Red Light Camera Enforcement Program. The agreement is to only keep cameras at existing approaches/locations. Each camera costs $4,200 to operate per month.
“There’s no concrete evidence that states red-light cameras reduce crashes at the intersections,” Patrick Henry told the Daytona Times. “They are very controversial.”
“I’ve never supported them from day one,” Henry told the commission. “We existed a hundred years without them. I’m just taking my stand.”
Located in Black neighborhoods
The only cities in Volusia and Flagler counties that have red-light cameras are Palm Coast in Flagler County and Holly Hill and Daytona Beach in Volusia.
Two of the largest intersections in Daytona Beach are home to the cameras that dish out a fine: Nova Road and George Engram Boulevard; and International Speedway Boulevard and Nova Road, both located in Zone 6, a predominately Black district. Four other cameras are also located in predominately Black areas.
John Nichols, a Daytona Beach resident was in favor of the agreement.
“The big thing is it saves lives, and it does save lives. What you are not seeing and what the public doesn’t realize is that it takes a police officer umpteen hours to sit there and write tickets. He can be used somewhere else,’’ Nichols said.
At its inception, city officials said that photo enforcement cameras were one component of a comprehensive traffic safety program, including engineering, education and traditional law enforcement. Red-light cameras allow police officers to be deployed to other more critical law enforcement safety priorities.
As a city bringing in millions of tourists each year, one commissioner says that visitors should just obey the law.
“If you’re a tourist and you’re obeying the traffic laws you won’t get a ticket,” said Commissioner Pam Woods.
Parties held responsible
According to the city’s website, tickets for the violation mailed to the registered owner’s address on file with the state Department of Motor Vehicles $158, if paid within 60 days of the postmark date of the notice of violation.
Pursuant to the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act, each fine is distributed this way: $100 goes to Florida’s general revenue fund; $45 goes to the local government; $10 goes to local trauma centers and $3 is allocated for spinal and brain injury research through The Miami Project.
Drivers who feel they have been issued an erroneous citation can request a hearing in writing within 60 days of the postmark date of the Notice of Violation. A hearing request form will be included with the Notice of Violation or an administrative hearing can be requested by calling the Violation Processing Center at 866-471-6529.
Each year in the United States, car accidents caused by people running red lights result in nearly 1,000 deaths and about 165,000 injuries.
In 2003, the Florida Highway Patrol reported that running red lights alone caused 8,900 collisions, 115 deaths, more than 10,000 injuries and $77 million in property damage.