Ocoee police are putting together shaming videos of the city‚Äôs worst red-light runners using short clips from traffic cameras.
They have plenty to choose from ‚ÄĒ they issue 200 red-light tickets a week. But June‚Äôs mash-up will be hard to top.
It includes a screech-to-a-stop near-miss followed by an SUV flying through a red light. The final brazen infraction wasn‚Äôt captured by a red-light camera but by the dashboard cam of a police cruiser, idling in the turn lane. Police started making the videos, hoping to shame drivers into better driving habits.
‚ÄúToday a lot more people are just distracted driving and that‚Äôs dangerous for all of us,‚ÄĚ Deputy Police Chief Steve McCosker said. ‚ÄúRight now, we‚Äôre doing a monthly thing until either it gets old or people start driving better. Hopefully, the latter.‚ÄĚ
May‚Äôs video headliner T-boned a car in an intersection, sending one person to the hospital.
The department‚Äôs videos are making the rounds with thousands of Facebook shares and a couple of mentions on Orlando-area newscasts.
But police hope motorists pay attention to the video‚Äôs intended message and be careful and attentive on the roads, rather than striving to be next month‚Äôs crash-em-up video star.
‚ÄúWe would really rather people not run them. T-bone accidents are so bad,‚ÄĚ McCosker said of high-speed, angular crashes in which injuries tend to be more severe.
Though a road construction project on State Road 50 shut down three of the city‚Äôs eight cameras for several months, they snagged 7,545 violators in 2017, about 20 a day.
The three idle cameras on S.R. 50 are going back online later this year and the city is adding two more.
On the department‚Äôs Facebook page, police introduced the July video with this disclaimer: ‚ÄúWe show this video to demonstrate that it is the law to stop a red light but how dangerous it is when you do not! SAFETY FIRST!‚ÄĚ
Nonetheless, the cameras still stir controversy.
As the video was collecting ‚Äúlikes‚ÄĚ on social media platforms last month, Ocoee city commissioners debated the merits of the traffic sentries, each of which cost the city $4,250 a month to rent from Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions, which has similar rental deals with Apopka, Orange County and other Florida communities that use red-light cameras.
First-year Commissioner George Oliver objected to adding two more cameras, both on Clarke Road at Silver Star Road, one facing south, the other north.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt want to see our city turn into another Apopka, where there‚Äôs a red-light camera on every corner,‚ÄĚ he said.
Apopka was the first city in Central Florida to install red light cameras and has 20 in operation, according to the city‚Äôs website. It issued 26,602 red-light violations in 2017.
Apopka‚Äôs share of the ticket money was nearly $1.3 million, not counting expenses, which include monthly camera rentals. The state‚Äôs share of Apopka ticket collections totaled 1.4 million.
Oliver said Ocoee‚Äôs cameras extract money from Ocoee citizens, and the $158 ticket is a hardship for some to pay.
Mayor Rusty Johnson, once a critic of red-light cameras, challenged Oliver‚Äôs criticism.
‚ÄúIf you look at the videos, it‚Äôs not whether someone can pay for a ticket or not, it‚Äôs whether they stop,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs just like the law says ‚ÄĒ you can‚Äôt rob banks. You have to stop.‚ÄĚ
The video push is technically a reboot, McCosker said.
The city, which launched its red-light camera program in 2009, used videos to promote it back then and even produced a three-minute ‚Äúworst of‚ÄĚ compilation of red-light runners in 2012, set to rock music.
‚ÄúWe decided a restart was in order,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúWhen people actually see how bad some of these violations are they see the value in the cameras.‚ÄĚ
Among those who have shared the video is a Facebook page dedicated to ‚Äústupid drivers,‚ÄĚ one of dozens on the social-media platform showing motorists smashing and crashing all over the world.
email@example.com or 407-650-6361.