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Red Light Cameras Warning Period Ends, Now Citations Will be Issued

“I’m still shocked at how these people drive,” Officer A.J. Falconeri. Three intersections in Gulfport have safety cameras catching your vehicle’s every move.

Nearly 700 traffic violation “warnings” have been caught on camera at three Gulfport intersections within the past 30 days. The intersection safety cameras are placed at the following intersections:

  • West Bound on Gulfport Blvd. S. & 58th St S.
  • South Bound on 49th St. & 15th Ave S.
  • East Bound on Gulfport Blvd. S. & 49th St. S.

Each intersection with a camera has a sign warning the drivers of the cameras presence.

Sgt. Michael Vandenberg says the camera at Gulfport Blvd S. & 58th St. S. has caught more violations than the other two combined. The goal of the cameras is to improve safety and decrease traffic and other violations. “It can only help, “ Vandenberg said.

The system is a two-part process. The camera knows when to snap a photo based on the speed of a vehicle as it approaches the intersection. Wireless video detectors placed under the road read how fast a vehicle is going and it sends that response to the camera. That’s when the camera snaps two photos, clearly showing the license plate of the vehicle. The information is then downloaded and sent to American Traffic Solutions, a company in Arizona. Employees there compile the information and email it to the Gulfport Police Department.

That’s where Officer A.J. Falconeri comes in. Falconeri has been with the department for 24 years, which means before the cameras were in place, issuing a citation meant conducting a traffic stop, filling out the appropriate information and sending the driver on his or her way. Now, with a few clicks of the mouse, Falconeri can “catch” the violators faster and from the comforts of the department. Currently Officer Falconeri and Officer Robert McLaughlin are the only two officers reviewing the red light camera photos.

“I’m still in shock at how these people drive,” Falconeri said while reviewing the latest batch of photos. Falconeri says one camera caught a driver going 78 mph in a 35 mph zone. While the person is just receiving a warning for that, if he or she does it again, it’s a $158 fine. Falconeri says if that driver were caught in person they would receive even more tickets. “It would have been a reckless driving situation. To just imagine the impact of what would happen if there was an accident. If someone walked away from it, it would be a miracle.”

Technology can also aid in those scenarios as well. The cameras not only take photos, but record video clips as well. Sgt. Michael Vandenberg says, “It’s also got other benefits. If we do happen to have a bad accident, we have the ability to call the company . . .  and they send us the video file.”

Video and photos are saved for 30 days automatically. Once a piece of media is attached to a violation, it’s then saved for five years. All other photos and videos that are rejected are erased.

The purpose of the 30-day warning period was to do just that. Officials want people to know the safety cameras are present. “I think the light definitely discourages them from running it. If anything, it’s getting people to be aware of it,“ Vandenberg said. So far, most of the photos that have come in during the warning period have been right. “90% are gonna be a violation,” Falconeri said.

To clarify, a red light violation occurs when all four of a vehicle’s wheels end up in front of the stop bar, which is the white line prior to the crosswalk. The violation is a $158 fine and is mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle.

To view an example violation check out our photos attached to the article. The ticket shows two photos, the date, speed, and even time of how long the light was red before the vehicle went through the intersection.

UPDATE: March 22, 2011.

Readers asked Gulfport Patch two specific questions:

How much does the program cost? and What is the definition of running a red light while making a right turn?

The answers:

According the Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent the city pays American Traffic Solutions, Inc $4,500 a month for the cameras. "However, we have a revenue neutrality clause in our contract which specifies that we do not have to pay them if the cameras do not generate enough revenue to cover the costs," Vincent wrote in his response.

According to a Gulfport City Ordinance, a right on red is a violation if the turn is not made in a “careful and prudent manner,” which is defined as follows:

(a)  Careful and Prudent Manner shall mean having regard for width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, actual and potential hazards, and all other attendant circumstances so as not to endanger pedestrians, other motor vehicles, or the property of another.

Philip Penrose March 21, 2011 at 01:00 PM
How about an article on how much this service is costing the city of Gulfport?
Jennifer S March 21, 2011 at 01:48 PM
The red light cameras have been pretty successful in other cities at reducing the number of people that run red lights, speed and accidents caused by these violations. It also makes it difficult for an individual to contest the ticket because there is video evidence of their infraction. Also, the cameras will probably increase the amount of money collected by the city for fines associated with running red lights and speeding. If the police issue 700 traffic violation a month that average $150, that is over $100,000 in fines. How much could the cameras, police time, paper, postage possibly cost that they wouldn't be taking in revenue from the cameras.
Joseph Taylor March 21, 2011 at 04:37 PM
I think Gulfport was just jealous because other communities were raking in the money and they wanted to get their hands in the pot. Just reading the info provided here, it won't be that difficult to beat a red light ticket down in Gulfport. I counted 3 ways alone in this article. Just another(attempted)money grab.
Pat Dunham March 21, 2011 at 07:56 PM
This information about the red light violation with the cameras doesn't seem to make sence. Your artical quoting Officer Falconari says. "A red light violation occurs when all 4 of the vehicles wheels end up in front of the stop bar which is the white line south of the cross walk". If he is referring to the white bar before the cross walk, there would be no way 4 wheels that stop over that would fit in the space, they would be out in the intersection. And what are they referring to when they mention the white line south of the cross walk, south where?
St Pete Driver March 21, 2011 at 09:14 PM
If you actually read all of the studies on red light cameras(there are dozens of them out there, many more than the 2 or 3 that advocates mention) you will see that red light cameras lead to a significant increase in crashes and injuries. If you don't believe me, go ahead and read all of the studies for yourself: http://www.stpetecameras.org/home/rlc-studies Also, it should be mentioned that red light cameras have never survived a public vote in US history, in fact 5 communities rejected red light cameras just in the last general election. People do not want them, and they do not work.
St Pete Driver March 21, 2011 at 09:20 PM
The fines are $158, not $150. The city gets less than half of that(state gets thee rest) and needs to pay ATS out of their share. As for outsourcing our police work to a private company in Arizona, I think that's a pretty bad omen for the future. As for safety, adding one additional second of yellow has a more significant effect on safety than using passive red light cameras that can only take pictures of crashes happening. But increasing yellow time doesn't make anyone any money...
St Pete Driver March 21, 2011 at 09:22 PM
The city will probably break even or make a little profit, but the people traveling in Gulfport will end up sending their money to Arizona instead of spending it in Gulfport. ATS will be the big winner, making out better than anyone else.
Jennifer S March 21, 2011 at 09:55 PM
A November 2008 study carried out by the Center for Transportation Safety of the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University found "a 43 percent annualized decrease in right angle collisions" at 56 intersections with red light cameras. A 2007 study by Iowa State's Center for Transportation Research and Education concluded that the "expected average number of crashes per quarter for [red-light-running]-related crashes (non-rear-end) decreased by 40 percent after installation of cameras at intersections with camera-enforced approaches." Studies show that T-Bone crashes, which are the more dangerous kinds of accidents, decrease with the red light cameras however rear end crashes do increase. Its also not all that surprising that people would vote against red light cameras. I think "To clarify...south of the cross walk," means that a red light violation occurs when all four wheels end up in front of the stop bar, which is the white line prior to reaching the cross walk. Your car should come to a stop prior to entering the crosswalk in order to allow pedestrians access to cross the street. If your wheels are over that stop bar, you have technically run a red light and I have seen people do this before. Also, out of curiosity, what are 3 ways to beat a red light ticket?
St Pete Driver March 21, 2011 at 10:11 PM
Looks like you found 2 studies that you liked, and picked a couple stats you liked from both of them, but what about the Virginia DOT 2007 study, the 2004 Raleigh- North Carolina Study, the 2008 and 2011 USF studies? Here are some problems with the studies that you cited: The 2008 Texas study used very small time periods(as small as 6 months) and annualized them. Even the red light camera companies say 6 months of data isn't enough to determine a pattern or effectiveness of a traffic safety program. They also use contradictory data from the same time period as the 2008 Houston study and omitted other cities that fit the terms of their study without giving a reason. As for the Iowa 2007 study, that study was for combined speed camera and red light camera intersections(not what is installed here in Gulfport), and they used a much smaller distance from intersection crash inclusion zone of 82 feet, whereas almost all other studies use larger inclusion zones(FDOT suggests 200 feet). This limited zone excludes many rear-end crashes from the crash totals that would be included if using the parameters of other studies.
Cherlene Willis March 21, 2011 at 11:24 PM
Pat, that is the legal description. The white line is about a foot or two south of each crosswalk at the intersections. Take a look next time you are at one of the intersections. I didn't realize it was called a "stop bar" until I did the story. Basically, if you run the red light or perhaps drive into the intersection (with all four wheels in front of the stop bar or into the intersection) and realize that you've run a red light, you may back up, but that would count as a red light violation. If you inch forward with the two front wheels in the crosswalk that is not a violation.That's why I included the definition. Thanks for the question Pat.
Cherlene Willis March 22, 2011 at 01:28 AM
Pat, I suppose the better word would be "prior" to the crosswalk. Hope that helps clarify! Cherlene
Photoradarscam March 22, 2011 at 01:28 AM
"The goal of the cameras is to improve safety and decrease traffic and other violations. “It can only help, “ Vandenberg said" --- Actually, it can actually make things worse. In Peoria, AZ accidents more than doubled after installing red light cameras. Same thing in Grande Prarie. NM DOT banned them on state roads because they did not improve safety. Many cities have taken their cameras down because they did not improve safety. In LA, the police were caught fudging data but the local news discovered that accidents had increased at camera locations. Google the truth. The truth is that cameras are effective against INTENTIONAL violations only, but UNINTENTIONAL violations are the most dangerous and neither a camera nor a cop can do anything. The best solution is smart traffic engineering, but instead of doing a study by qualified traffic engineers, UNQUALIFIED police and council decided they knew the best way to improve safety and fatten the city coffers.
Philip Penrose March 22, 2011 at 02:39 AM
Actually my previous post was not at all well worded - I was in a morning-rush. What I should have said was it would be interesting to see an article on the financial data on the program - how much goes to what agencies. Interested Cherlene? Phil
Cherlene Willis March 22, 2011 at 02:41 AM
Already working on gathering that information! Thanks for the questions Phil. Cherlene
Philip Penrose March 22, 2011 at 02:48 AM
Cherlene - you posted the article at 6:00 am and now, you answer my comment at 10:47 pm. You need to get some rest so you can carry on your nice work!
Tony Althaus March 22, 2011 at 05:20 AM
What I would like to know is making a right turn considered being in violation of running a red light? At each of the red light camera sites is a posting stating that it includes right turns. Is it to mean it is illegal to turn right on red at those intersections? There are no other signs telling us not to turn right on red?
St Pete Driver March 22, 2011 at 11:06 AM
Very good question. Most of the red light camera systems in Florida make the bulk of their money on ticketing right run on red, but the law allows for "careful and prudent" right turns on red without getting ticketed by a red light camera, although many municipalities ignore this provision. I would guess that they are issuing these tickets, because as we saw in Collier County, if they stop issuing these right turn on red tickets and only issue straight through tickets then their citations per day go from 17.0 to 1.5 which doesn't even pay for the lease on the cameras.
Philip Penrose March 22, 2011 at 02:08 PM
I'm no expert, but I wouldn't think the "right turn on red" law would change on these intersections. I think the trouble with RTOR is many people violate the law by not being 'careful and prudent' - they don't come to a stop and they don't yield to cars lawfully turning left from oncoming traffic. Don't get me started on people running stop signs! When did it become OK not to STOP at a STOP sign? I missed the memo on that one. And YIELD signs? They might as well say ' KEEP GOING NO MATTER WHAT - IT''S ALL ABOUT YOU'
St Pete Driver March 22, 2011 at 02:14 PM
As far as the red light cameras are concerned the law is different. They are not supposed to ticket for a rolling right turn on red as long as it is "careful and prudent". This of course has no effect on a real police officer, they can still ticket you if they see you not stopping at a red light and making a rolling right turn on red. Hillsborough County defines "careful and prudent" as going less than 15 mph, other communities define it as 5, 10, 11, 12 or even 20 mph.
Cherlene Willis March 22, 2011 at 05:58 PM
Hello everyone. I've responded with answers in the full article at the bottom. I've labeled the new addition Update: March 22, 2011. Thanks for all your questions. Cherlene
St Pete Driver March 22, 2011 at 06:33 PM
Is that $4500 per month per camera or for all 3 cameras?
Cherlene Willis March 22, 2011 at 09:15 PM
It is 4,500 per month, per camera. Coming to 13,500 for all three cameras in the city.
Sam Smith March 24, 2011 at 02:34 AM
@ Jeniifer, you have three ways in which you can handle your citation...1) pay the fine, 2) contest the ticket in court (you are given this option when you are cited by an officer in person, i dont know if you can take theses type of violations to traffic court or not, that would be a question for GPD), 3) enroll in a driver improvment course, which will reduce or eliminate points added to your license (you can take this course once every 12 months, but no more than 5 times within your lifetime).
Sam Smith March 24, 2011 at 02:39 AM
@ Tony, it is perfectly legal to make a right turn on red at all of the intersections in gulfport, you must come to a complete stop though before you initiate your turn...if your tires cross the stop bar before you have come to a complete stop while the light is red, by defenition you have commited a red light violation...
Jennifer S March 24, 2011 at 02:40 AM
@samsmith: I know the main ways to handle tickets. One of the previous responders suggested there were 3 ways to get out of paying the tickets. I was curious as to those ways to "beat a traffic ticket." Your answers wouldn't beat a traffic ticket.
Sam Smith March 24, 2011 at 02:43 AM
Well as far as i know if you are issued a citation by the state there is "no turning back"...the only time i could think of is if you were pulled over by an officer and could explain some sort of "extenuating circumstances". Although if you are caught break traffic law you should "man up" and accept the penalty for your wrong doing, instead of wiggling your way out of just punishment...
Jennifer S March 24, 2011 at 02:50 AM
I realize this. I was making a sarcastic comment to someone that suggested he could beat a traffic citation when he was on film breaking the law. I'm frustrated by people that run traffic lights and stop signs, merge on 95 going 20 mph or ride my butt in the right lane when they can pass me in the left. I have no issue with cameras.
Sam Smith March 24, 2011 at 02:59 AM
Agree 100% people need to realize when they do break the law there are going to be consequences, and if they dont want to deal with those, the solution simply is DONT BREAK THE LAW!!! lol
St Pete Driver March 24, 2011 at 07:38 AM
By law, these red light camera citations do not put points on your license. You can get 70 of them and not loose your license.
Jennifer S March 24, 2011 at 03:40 PM
Although, if you get 70 tickets, you would end up with over $10,000 in fines and may not be able to afford to drive any longer.

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