Tragos Law Scholarship Winner: Do Red Light Cameras Improve Safety on Florida Roads?

To help a deserving student reach their academic goals and impress upon them the importance of lawmaking, the Law Offices of Tragos, Sartes & Tragos launched a privately funded scholarship essay contest earlier this year to award $1,000 to one deserving student who presented a creative, practical, and substantive answer to our essay question.

This was our very first essay contest and we were thrilled to receive over 80 submissions.

In this essay question, we asked students for their perspective on a red light cameras, specifically:

The Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that red light cameras are legal. Do you think red light cameras improve safety on Florida roads? Why or why not?

Our winner, Taylor Avery, is an MBA student at Lipscomb University.

Congrats Taylor on winning the $1,000 scholarship, and thanks to everyone who participated!

Here’s the winning essay:


In Theory vs. In Practice

In theory, the red-light camera systems use B.F. Skinner’s psychological theory of operant conditioning to negatively reinforce, deter, and punish drivers who run red lights in intersections. This system is promoted as an assistance tool for authorities in their enforcement of traffic laws and road safety. In practice, the red-light camera systems do not directly make roads safer and are valued more as streams of revenue for local governments.

First, the presence of red-light cameras indirectly improves awareness and has resulted in a decrease in “T-Bone accidents”, however, their road safety impact could be accomplished with other effective methods for reducing speed before intersections, such as speed breakers and road bumps. Second, these road additions would achieve the result of the red-cameras without placing a financial burden on drivers from the tickets. “Rep. Anthony Sabatini, a Howey-in-the-Hills Republican sponsoring this year’s version, told the House panel that the law isn’t altering ‘bad’ driving behavior and that it punishes ‘working-class’ people with $158 tickets for ‘taking a right on red, failing to stop or just barely crossing the line when a camera is at an intersection” (Turner). Some opposers consider the tickets to be civil violations because they don’t appear on driving records, don’t affect insurance rates, aren’t considered a non-moving violation so don’t contribute to driving license points, and can’t be reported to credit bureaus so they don’t affect credit. Also, some counties in the U.S. who use the red-light camera system flag motorists with unpaid tickets, add late payment fines, and prevent them from vehicle registration until the tickets are paid. Lastly, the red-light tickets generate millions for local government and camera contractors, further proving the tickets have more value as financial benefit than for safety. Currently, there is a Florida bill to discontinue the red-light camera system that “a House staff analysis projected local governments could see a drop in revenue of an estimated $80 million a year” if the bill is approved (Turner). The red-light camera system masks its main purpose of squeezing more revenue from drivers as a road safety tool.

The red-light camera system makes people aware they are being watched which deters them from speeding but doesn’t directly preventing anything. The addition of other effective methods that reduce speed near intersections at red lights would achieve the safety goal of the red-light camera system without placing a financial burden on drivers. This financial burden negatively affects drivers, especially those of lower income who are already at a financial disadvantage and now have another barrier. The red-light cameras are successful at generating a stream of revenue for a city but do not clearly improve road safety for drivers.


Works Cited
Reicher, Mike. “Could Tennessee Finally Hit the Brakes on Red-Light Cameras?” The Tennessean, Nashville Tennessean, 8 July 2019, www.tennessean.com/story/news/2019/07/08/could-tennessee-finally-hit-brakes-red-light-cameras/1639139001/.
Turner, Jim. “Florida Bill Would Turn off Red-Light Cameras.” Sun, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 24 Jan. 2019, www.sun-sentinel.com/news/florida/fl-ne-red-light-cameras-bill-20190124-story.html.


Tragos Law scholarship winner Taylor AveryTaylor Avery serves as the program manager of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Innovation Center. The Vanderbilt University Medical Center Strategy and Innovation (S&I) Office assists leaders in setting and achieving strategic goals through three processes: Innovation Lifecycle Management, Strategy Development, and Execution on Strategic Initiatives. In her role, Taylor assists in facilitating executive teams to discover and test approaches to transformational change; identify, align, communicate, refine organizational strategies; facilitate structured decision making to achieve strategic goals. Taylor leads logistics and execution of the strategy sessions, optimizes processes, and uses her graphic scribing skills to facilitate strategic sessions and teach a “hands-on” class to other VUMC associates. Taylor cultivates an inclusive and creative atmosphere to widen the avenues VUMC clients can explore the center and their ideas. Within the medical center, Taylor collects and codes research data as well as assist in writing research manuscripts with VUMC’s Biomedical Informatics department. In her free time, Taylor serves on the board of her alumni chapter in Nashville and founded #iCamp, a compounding, project-based workshop series in the areas of self-discovery, financial literacy, mentorship, entrepreneurship, exposure, and more.

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