Sheriff says red-light cameras will go away in December

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Five years after police began ticketing motorists caught on camera running red lights at dozens of Jacksonville intersections, the red-light camera program will end, Sheriff Mike Williams told the City Council on Thursday.

"My position is we always want to add crash avoidance to a number of intersections in Jacksonville and we were not able to do that successfully," Williams said. "As we dug into it in, the red-light camera industry, that technology is not there yet."

At one time, 40 red-light cameras were up across Jacksonville.

The ticketing of motorists based on photographic evidence began across the state after the Legislature authorized the practice in 2010. Owners of vehicles caught on camera running red lights were mailed $158 citations.

Lawmakers began discussing repeal of the law after a 2016 report from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles showed that rear-end crashes increased at intersections with red-light cameras. The department tracked crashes before and after the cameras were installed. One statistic that stood out was that injuries went up from 234 to 283 after the cameras were installed.

State and local governments have split the fine revenues, with the fines yielding nearly $60 million for the state budget last year, according to the Florida Department of Revenue.

News4Jax spoke to drivers in Mandarin who expressed mixed reviews about taking down the cameras.

“I think it’s a good idea,” an unnamed driver said. “I think a lot of people were getting busted for running red lights that were two feet past the line and I don’t think, I don’t think they made plans for that.”

One driver News4Jax reporter Scott Johnson spoke to said they “never had any problem” with the cameras and thought they “absolutely” helped.

The fines will continue to be issued until the contract between the city and the vendor ends in December.

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