Florida City Installs Red-Light Camera in Front of Hospital Emergency Room
With revenue drying up, municipalities have had to invent new ways to bring in funds to their coffers. A Florida city might win the prize for creativity, installing a red-light camera at an intersection next to a hospital, targeting those who are on their way to the emergency room.
Jacob Alcahe told Miami’s Channel 10 that he was concerned he was having a heart attack, so he drove himself to University Hospital in Tamarac (population: 60,427). It turned out that Alcahe was merely having a panic attack, but he felt sick all over again when, a few weeks later, he received a ticket in the mail for having run the red light next to the hospital.
Alcahe explained to a judge what the circumstances of his violation were, including showing him his hospital discharge papers. It didn’t work and Alcahe’s $283 fine was upheld. “I went to the hearing and they just told me it wasn't a good enough excuse,” Alcahe said.
Fort Lauderdale attorney Ted Hollander told Channel 10 that he believes the city put the camera by the hospital to prey on those seeking medical attention. “I've been a lawyer a long time and I've really never seen a city do something that's so greedy, in my opinion,” he said.
Tamarac Mayor Harry Dressler denies that’s the case. He does stand by the magistrate who upheld the fine, and said: “The city is not condoning, neither are we preying on anyone.”
With revenues going into the red, cities often turn to traffic signals to bring in extra cash. El Paso, Texas, found that when they cut the time of their yellow lights by four-tenths of a second, the number of tickets written increased by 132 percent.
Municipal officials claim moves like this are made to improve traffic safety. But a study in Texas showed that a one-second increase in yellow-light times resulted in a 40 percent drop in accidents at intersections.
-by Steve Straehley
To Learn More:
Red-Light Violators at Hospital Intersection in Tamarac Ticketed (by Roger Lohse, Channel 10)
Cities Increase Revenues by Shortening Yellow Lights, but Risk More Accidents (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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