Palatka drivers might notice off-white, semi-circular, oblong-shaped boxes stationed high above intersections around town. Local law enforcement hopes those new additions will make drivers think twice about running red lights.
The Palatka Police Department is installing cameras at four intersections to reduce the amount of red-light runners on its city’s roads.
“We’ve seen an increase of accidents at intersections because of red-light runners,” Sgt. Tobby Williams said.
Williams said the accidents have also led to an increase in property damage around heavily trafficked intersections.
David Nou manages Palm and Crill Food Mart. He supports the installation of the red-light cameras.
“Traffic is really bad,” he said. “People run red lights. People, you know, they’re really bad at driving, so I think it’s a good idea.”
But not all Palatka residents feel the same way.
“All intersections are dangers,” David Cummings said. “It’s just a waste of money.”
However, the program is funded by violators, so money generated by fines would go toward the costs of operating and maintaining the cameras. Running a red light will result in a $158 fine, Williams said.
The Palatka Police Department said most Floridians feel that red-light cameras will make roads safer.
Florida was the 30th state to install red-light cameras in 2010 when it enacted the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act. A research survey conducted by FrederickPolls found 72 percent of Florida voters favored the safety camera laws. The results speak for themselves. According to the National Coalition for Safer Roads, crashes in the Miami area fell by more than 60 percent after installing cameras. Orlando saw a 20-percent drop in accidents in one year and reported no fatalities from those auto accidents.
Williams would like to see the trend continue in Palatka.
“A large number agreed by having … these cameras at intersections, it does make intersections safer,” he said.
The cameras will be installed at the following intersections:
- State Road 20 at Palm Avenue
- St. Johns Avenue at State Road 19
- U.S. 17/State Road 100 at 19th Street
- U.S. 17/Reid Street at 9th Street
George Pappas edited this story online.