Lawmakers may yet put brakes on red light cameras

- The video from red light cameras can be jaw-dropping.  Sometimes, it's just a close call. In other cases, it's much worse.

"One of the most deadly forms of causes of traffic crashes is running red lights,” Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Larry McKinnon said.

It's why the red light enforcement program started in 2009, to reduce the number of accidents.

"We have seen a reduction, and so you know, if it saves one life, it's all worth it," McKinnon continued.

Yet, that isn't the case for the whole state.  In a report released earlier this year by the Florida Department Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the number of accidents shot up more than 10 percent. The state looked at 148 intersections, comparing the number of crashes before and after red light cameras were installed.

The number of incapacitating injuries, the ones where a person must be carried from the scene of an accident, has increased by almost 27 percent.

RELATED: Controversial red light camera stopper

Now, some state lawmakers want to put an end to the program.  Just last month, the House voted to eliminate red light cameras here in Florida.

"It hasn't increased public safety, and then there's also the question of the revenue,” offered state Rep. Bryan Avila of Hialeah. “The revenue that's going to these local jurisdictions simply are not being put into a pot that's dedicated to public safety."

"We don't make a dime from it,” countered McKinnon.  “We operate simply on the notion of either approving the allegation or not. Anybody who wants to consider it a cash cow for the sheriff's office... I can tell you right now, we don't make any money on it."

Red light citations will cost violators $158, and that money goes into the government's general fund. Last fiscal year, violators poured in almost than $60-million, with more than $50-million of that going into that general fund. 

"What may have started out as a well-intentioned proposal, has turned out to be more of a financial incentive for those local jurisdictions," Avila continued.

And, some drivers claim, the cameras force them to slam on their brakes to avoid getting a ticket.

"We want people to stop because we don't care about the ticket, because we don't receive money,” McKinnon added. "We want you to stop because we don't want you to kill yourself or kill somebody else. And, that's always been our goal."

WATCH: Worst red light runners in Florida in 2016

For now, the red light cameras are here to stay. A repeal proposal in the Senate has stalled in its first committee.

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