Manatee County red-light runners slowed

skennedy@bradenton.comJune 18, 2013 

MANATEE -- The number of red-light runners caught on Manatee County's high-tech cameras has declined significantly since the system was activated in October, county officials said Monday.

For example, 418 October violations were recorded by cameras at the southbound intersection at 34th Street West and 53rd Avenue West. That dropped to 66 in May, according to Nick Azzara, county information coordinator.

"It's just these cameras are doing what they're designed to do," said Melissa Wandall, the widow of Mark Wandall, who was killed in 2003 by a red-light runner at Tara Boulevard and State Road 70. "I knew this was what would take part in saving lives."The cameras, which work in conjunction with the traffic signal, snap images of violators speeding through intersections when the light has already turned red.

Cameras at four more intersections will be activated after a report to county commissioners Tuesday by Code Enforcement Chief Joe Fenton. He is slated to review how the cameras have improved the behavior of drivers, Azzara said.

Among the newly activated cameras will be one at the intersection where Wandall died. He later became the namesake of the state law regulating the use of traffic cameras.

Other new traffic cameras are slated for 26th Street West at Cortez Road, southbound; at U.S. 301 at 60th Avenue East, at Ellenton, northbound, and 60th Avenue East at U.S. 301, at Ellenton, southbound, according to Azzara.

Other county cameras are located at 34th Street West, at 53rd Avenue West, northbound; 15th Street East at 57th Avenue East, northbound, and 15th Street East at 57th Avenue East, southbound, Azzara said.

From the original activation date in October through April, revenues from traffic cameras have consistently covered all expenses, said Azzara.

"As intended from the beginning, the cameras have been largely revenue-neutral for the county," he said.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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