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Davie to keep red-light cameras, collect more crash data

Controversial red light cameras have not been a hit in every city, but Davie plans to keep them -- at least through 2015.

Hallandale Beach and Margate are dumping theirs when the camera contracts end in December. And state lawmakers are considering banning them altogether or cutting the $158 fines by nearly half.

In Davie, 10 of the town's 16 cameras were set to come offline in September. But town officials want all 16 to remain in operation through next year, mainly to compare crash data with intersections that don't have cameras.

Town Administrator Rick Lemack says Davie's contract with American Traffic Solutions has a 120-day cancellation clause that allows Davie to end the agreement without penalty. To keep the cameras, the town would simply renew the contract.

Davie has issued 24,245 violations to red-light runners since the first 10 cameras were installed in August 2011, Police Chief Patrick Lynn told the council. Six more cameras came online in December 2012.

In 2012, the town had 116 crashes at intersections with cameras, including 77 rear-end collisions. Last year, the town logged 152 crashes at those intersections, with 133 rear-end collisions but fewer T-bone accidents.

Councilwoman Susan Starkey credits the program with cutting down on deadly T-bone collisions and said the rear-end crashes might have happened without the cameras.

"I'd like to see the number of accidents diminish," she said. "The goal is to reduce red-light running."

Councilman Bryan Caletka, a fierce opponent of the cameras, disagreed with the decision.

But since he was outnumbered, he advised staff to at least shop around before the contract ends to see if Davie can get a better deal with another company.

In Pembroke Pines, accidents are down 46 percent thanks to red light cameras, said Commissioner Angelo Castillo.

"One, driving behavior has been changed," Castillo said. "Two, there are people alive today that wouldn't have been. The people who oppose red light cameras are those who don't drive safely. And for those people who do not drive safely, we prefer that they do not come to Pembroke Pines."

Hollywood Commissioner Patty Asseff says cameras are doing their job in her city by putting red-light runners on notice.

"Once they've gotten a ticket, they're pretty cautious the next time," Asseff said. "We didn't do this to be a moneymaker. We did this for safety."

By contrast, Hallandale Beach is ditching its cameras six years after bringing them to town.

Commissioner Michele Lazarow says the cameras have given Hallandale a "black eye" and may have contributed to more rear-end collisions.

"Our cameras are punitive, not preventive," Lazarow said. "We don't have high-speed intersections. We have congested intersections."

sbryan@tribune.com or 954-356-4554

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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