COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. -The Collier Commission votes to continue the contract for red light cameras even after a WINK NEWS investigation uncovered no real numerical evidence proving the cameras keep people safer.
In our investigation, we uncovered statistics showing no change in accidents and fatalities. Commissioner Coletta vowed to recommend to dismantle the program. After a strong push by Sheriff Kevin Rambosk, commissioners voted 3-2 to keep the contract for red light cameras.
The sheriff told commissioners ticking red light runners is essential for safety. He told them to do the same job the cameras are doing, he would need to hire 4-5 new deputies at a cost of $100,000 each to the county.
Commissioner Jim Coletta attributed that heartfelt plea to his change of heart.
"When the sheriff is willing to stand behind them, I'll stand behind the sheriff because I have complete confidence in the sheriff," said Coletta.
The vote came after Commissioners rushed the Traffic Department through their prepared presentation. Only the statistics for citations were discussed during the meeting. Traffic engineers were cut off before presenting two of their prepared slides. The presented slides did not contain statistics for accidents or fatalities, only citations.
Our investigation did analyze accidents and fatalities. It found no consistent downward trend of the number of accidents at red light camera intersections since they were installed.
From 2007 to 2009 (before the cameras went in), the number of crashes caused by someone running a red light was already on the decline.
At all of the intersections in Collier County, there were a combined:
87 red light running accidents in 2007
75 in 2008
60 in 2009.
However, the year after the cameras were installed that number were:
71 in 2010
62 in 2011
When we looked specifically at intersections monitored by red light cameras, we found the number of accidents actually increased.
3 in 2009
11 in 2010
9 in 2011
We also found that from 2007 to 2011, fatality accidents remained relatively unchanged.
The discussion ended with a tight vote 3 to 2 vote. Commissioners Georgia Hiller and Tom Henning dissented.
Hiller says our statistics and her own analysis has only solidified her position against cameras.
Her analysis found there was at most 2 citations per intersection per day.
"Let's put it in perspective: We have 19 cameras. We have many more intersections. So to suggest public safety is promoted by 19 cameras and leaving all the intersections unmonitored obviously is a ludicrous idea.
Commissioner Coletta told us he is waiting to hear from the public about red light cameras. He told us if he hears enough people in opposition, he will suggest putting the issue on the August primary ballot where voters could decide if Collier should keep the red light program.
Here is a link to contact information for all of the Collier County Commissioners.