Authorities in Tamarac, Florida have drawn criticism over the decision to place red-light cameras near the entrance to a hospital’s emergency room.
One patient, Jacob Alcahe, received a ticket after stopping at the red light and allegedly waiting for several minutes before driving through. He reportedly drove to the hospital due to chest pains and fear of a heart attack.
“I was desperate to get to the hospital because I felt very nervous,” Alcahe told FloridaWatchdog.
Alcahe received a $258 fine for the offense, which he attempted to fight in court. A judge overseeing the case deemed his medical-emergency excuse “insufficient,” despite hospital records brought as evidence, and raised the fine to $283.
Red-light cameras have continued to ignite controversy as more cities decide to embrace the technology. Tamarac is one of many that has cited a “higher level of public safety” as a goal to be achieved through camera enforcement.
Critics point to a handful of studies, including analysis conducted by the University of South Florida, that have actually found an increase in accidents and no drop in the number of fatalities. Many cities have shuttered the programs due to public outrage and subsequent ballot propositions.
Despite the official goal of public safety, the programs have been viewed as a revenue generator. The Florida Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis estimated annual earnings of approximately $100 million from the cameras. Out of $6.3 million collected in Tallahassee over the past three years, $3.2 million is said to have gone to the state, $3 million was paid to the camera company and just $487,000 went directly into the city’s coffers.
The Florida Senate is reportedly considering a bill that would ban new installations and cap fines at $83 plus a city-determined surcharge to cover administrative costs.