10 Investigates: Tampa red light camera program still plugging along

12:18 PM, Mar 18, 2014   |    comments
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TAMPA, Florida -- Despite St. Petersburg's decision to remove controversial cameras from its intersections, most city leaders in Tampa continue to support red light camera technology, even as the number of tickets continues to drop.

On Monday, the Tampa Police Department released new statistics indicating a huge drop-off in red light camera (RLC) tickets issued - even as new cameras were installed in January - following last fall's mandatory yellow light re-timings.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) required longer yellow light minimums at RLC intersections following 10 Investigates' breakthrough reporting last May.

And in February, 10 Investigates first reported how the longer yellows were cutting into Tampa's RLC profits as fewer drivers were getting unfairly ticketed.

TIMELINE: 10 News' Short Yellows Investigation
MAP: Short Yellows in Your Neighborhood

The number of RLC violations issued by the Tampa Police Department has dropped every month since September 2013, when the city's yellow lights started getting extensions: 

Month RLC tickets issued
Nov '12 4426
Dec '12 5242
Jan '13 5261
Feb '13 4194
Mar '13 6399
Apr '13 5959
May '13 4803
Jun '13 5692
Jul '13 5339
Aug '13 4232
Sep '13 5150
Oct '13 4269
Nov '13 3916
Dec '13 3221
Jan '14 (new cameras added)
2625
Feb '14 2398
Source: Tampa Police Department

Citations even continued to drop in 2014, after six new cameras were activated on Jan. 1.  The city now operates cameras at 48 approaches to 21 intersections.

ALSO SEE: Tampa engineer asks FDOT for shorter yellow calculations

In the city's first year of the RLC program, more than $7 million in tickets were written.  The city collected more than $2 million in profits after paying the state 53% of each ticket and vendor American Traffic Solutions $45,000 per camera.

However, altered behavior and longer yellow lights have reduced revenue so drastically, a 10 Investigates analysis projects the city will collect just $2.5 million in fines in 2014.  And the program will likely cost the city money to staff and administer, since almost all revenue will go to the state and American Traffic Solutions.

Tampa Police indicate the loss of revenue is a sign the program is working.

The agency also reported a drop in red light-related crashes at RLC intersections, dropping from 108 in the first year of its program to just 72 in the second year.  But 10 Investigates has also identified a number of rear-end crashes at RLC intersections that were not included in the analysis.

The 10 Investigates team will continue to dig into the city's recently-released data.

Find 10 News Investigator Noah Pransky on Facebook or follow his updates on Twitter.

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