Red light camera grace period begins

Cameras turn on at midnight Wednesday at 2 intersections

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Red light cameras mounted at two intersections in Jacksonville were turned on at midnight Wednesday, and a 30-day grace period is under way.

Lights monitoring east and westbound traffic on Baymeadows Road at Southside Boulevard and on Southside Boulevard southbound at Touchton Road are the first of 25 cameras that will be used to catch red light runners at 18 different intersections in the River City.

"Our goal is to reduce traffic fatalities and reduce accidents," said Assistant Chief Bobby Deal, of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

The owners of cars caught running red lights at the intersections over the next month will receive warnings in the mail. After that, a fine of $158 will be issued, cited to the owner of the car, no matter who is driving.

In Flagler County, investigators said a red light camera helped the catch a hit-and-run suspect. Deal said using the cameras to solve crime could be an added bonus, but their primary purpose is to keep drivers safe.

"It's having the drivers think about the consequences, think about what's going to happen by running that light?" Deal said. "Well, OK, they don't get involved in an accident, but they get a citation in the mail for $158. Is it really worth it?"

The $158 is a notice of violation in which no points will be added to the driver's license. After it goes unpaid for 30 days or more, it becomes a citation, or an official ticket with a $274 fine and points on the driver's license.

Using red light cameras to catch violators draws mixed opinions.

"I think they're effective. I think it forces people to slow down at dangerous intersections," said driver David Lithman.

"My initial opinion is that I'm against it," driver Brian Michutka said. "I'm not quite sure if they are simply put in just for revenue generation or whether or not they really do reduce accidents."

The city projects the cameras will generate $1.5 million that will go back into its general fund.

"This time next year, we'll be doing a story about how many traffic crashes they've reduced," Deal said.

To see a list of all the intersections getting red light cameras and when they'll become active, click here.