Palm Bay to vote on red-light cameras

Jan 8, 2009

Florida Today--January 8, 2009


Say cheese. The city of Palm Bay is hoping to take your picture, especially if you run a red light.

The city council tonight is set to vote on installing red-light cameras at six major intersections throughout the city in an effort to catch red-light runners and cut down on fatalities or injuries suffered in accidents.

If the ordinance passes today, the cameras will be installed by early February, making Palm Bay a leader locally in using this technology.

“The rationale for it is to save lives,” Palm Bay police Chief Bill Berger said. “Hopefully, it sends a message.”

Berger said there were at least 16 fatal traffic accidents in Palm Bay in 2007 — about one-third of which were from people running red lights.

“On Minton (Road), we’ve had some really hellacious crashes,” he said. “These were blatant, ‘I’m going to run this thing’ accidents.”

Gatso USA, based in Beverly, Mass., has installed more than 45,000 cameras at intersections in 60 countries, with the first one in 1966.

If approved, the company will enter into a five-year agreement with the city at no charge. For the first six months, the company will provide its services for free. After that, the company will take $30 from every $125 ticket written.

“In the long-term, it changes drivers’ behavior,” Gatso President Andrew Noble said. “You get to the point where drivers just don’t go through red lights.”

The camera also has the power to catch the most serious of criminals. Cameras can be equipped with an Amber Alert feature, allowing police departments to search for suspect vehicles at intersections.

In addition, the company has agreed to follow city requirements, including:

  • Nonintrusive equipment into the roadway or signal cabinetry.
  • Encryption of the data at the time of the violation.
  • Intersection monitoring 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Video storage capabilities for up to 72 hours.
  • Measuring the true speed of vehicles for right-turn violators.

    And if you think you can get away with running a light, Gatso officials warn that you better think again.

    “Another compelling advantage to consider about Gatso is that we have never lost a court case or administrative hearing because of technology in our 50 years of photo enforcement,” Noble said.

    Berger said he hopes the cameras stop all red-light running.

    “I hope nobody gets a ticket,” he said. “That’s our ultimate goal.”

  • Additional Facts If you go
  • When and where: The Palm Bay City Council meets at 7 p.m. today at the City Hall, council chambers, 120 Malabar Road.

  • Agenda online: Read the red-light camera agenda item, starting on Page 146 of the council agenda.