Discussions on returning red-light cameras to select intersections in Bradenton have started for the first time since the city voted to terminate its contract with Colorado-based Xerox in August.
The first red-light camera in Bradenton was installed in 2008. Officials agreed last summer that terminating the contract was not a permanent action, and they would find a new potential new vendor. City officials were not happy with the control its previous contractor had over selecting intersections, some of which had little to no foundation in safety.
Some of the city’s previous seven selected intersections were widely regarded as “money-makers” for the contractor.
Re-implementing the red-light cameras is not set in stone. Last summer’s debate was somewhat divided in whether the city should have red-light cameras, but ultimately the majority of the council just wanted more control of the locations.
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Officials ares still waiting for a report from Bradenton Police Chief Melanie Bevan. The BPD has been keeping statistics up-to-date since the red-light cameras were turned off in August. Bevan said the anticipated report is a first draft, but will give council members some basic information in guiding their decision in coming weeks.
I don’t want someone else to have that empty seat at their table because their loved one lost their life due to a red light runner.
Melissa Wandall, president of the National Coalition for Safer Roads
Melissa Wandall, president of the National Coalition for Safer Roads, said she is grateful the discussion is moving forward once again after she expressed disappointment in the city’s decision in August.
“It’s critical,” Wandall said. “At the end of the day, my belief is that red-light cameras, education, enforcement and advocacy combined will help motorists to make that stop at a red light and save a life.”
Wandall’s husband Mark was killed about 14 years ago by a red-light runner, and the red-light camera safety program in Florida bears his name. She was nine months’ pregnant when Mark was killed.
“Red-light cameras are just another deterrent,” Wandall said. “It’s not catching someone doing something wrong. We have to get out of this mind frame that the cameras are there to give people tickets. It’s not. Those cameras are a reminder that someone has died in order to implement them in the first place.”
City administrator Carl Callahan said part of the long delay was to give the police department time to gather statistics, and to see what the Florida Legislature will do in its first 2017 session.
The council was asked to look at intersections that are most pertinent and viable and by viable I don’t mean making money, I mean what are the most dangerous intersections.
Carl Callahan, city administrator
“We’ve seen a lot go through the Legislature the past few years on red-light cameras, and they may be looking to try something again,” Callahan said. “The council was asked to look at intersections that are most pertinent and viable — and by viable I don’t mean making money, I mean what are the most dangerous intersections. We need to wait on the information being provided by the chief, but also to wait and see what the Legislature may or may not do.”
Wandall said she would have preferred to see movement before the holiday season.
“Fatalities rise around the holidays,” she said. “With all due respect, it’s time to get this program moving and get a company in there and start setting up some best practices for pedestrians, motorists and bicyclists.
“Everyone looks at red-light cameras like they are a black eye, but they are a life-saving technology,” Wandall added. “I don’t want someone else to have that empty seat at their table because their loved one lost their life due to a red-light runner.”