by Dan Smith
I see where the City of DeLand is the latest to opt for red light cameras in an effort to extract as much money from their citizens as possible. I suppose the city fathers there are unimpressed by all of the lawsuits that are swirling around the state. Palm Coast is also fearless since they just signed on to add up to 40 more cameras regardless of the lawsuit they already have pending.
Unfortunately I was victimized by a blasted traffic camera a few years ago. My ticket came courtesy of the City of Lakeland, a place I have not visited since the 1980s. My son Landan had taken a job teaching in Polk County and was ordered to Lakeland for orientation. He was driving an old hand-me-down family sedan that was still registered in my name. When he arrived in Lakeland the car was overheating and about to stop when he made a right on red into a gas station for water. Click. About a month later the ticket showed up at my house in Ormond Beach. I called the Lakeland Police Department to plead my case but that fell on deaf ears. I coughed up the $158 and forgot about it.
A couple of months ago I received a letter in the mail from a law firm in Minnesota. It informed me I could be a party to a class action lawsuit against Lakeland and American Traffic Solutions, the company that provides the cameras. All right! As I read further I discovered that I could get back as much as $27.50 in the settlement. That much? The law firm that sent the letter had won similar cases in Minnesota and Ohio and informed me the other option would be for me to sue Lakeland myself. I have to tell you I was a little put off by the lawyers taking $130.50 of my cash but I signed anyway. I found out later that a case was settled by another firm in Apopka and the victims got back a whooping 22 bucks. Obviously the red light cameras are making the law firms wealthy. Did you ever wonder how the lawyers are able to pay for those relentless T V commercials advertising those class action suits? Maybe now it will be just a bit more clear. At this writing there are traffic camera lawsuits pending in Pembroke Pines, Florida City, North Miami Beach, Brooksville, West Palm Beach, Homestead, North Miami, Ocoee, Casselberry and so many more I couldn't list them here.
You know when cities install these instruments of the devil there is always a lot of talk about improving public safety, but after a while the dialog switches to profit. Actually there have been studies that show an inordinate amount of rear-end collisions are occurring in places where the cameras are operating. Drivers become too timid and fearful and hit the brakes suddenly causing accidents. Let's face it, whenever a machine is used to replace a live police officer there is bound to be questions. While I am not fond of losing my $130.50 to the lawyers, if that will help get rid of those wretched things, count me in.
Daytona Beach has red light cameras as does Holly Hill. New Smyrna Beach does not, nor does Port Orange. Deltona is considering it. My own town has no cameras but then Ormond Beach has always been a class act.