9 Investigates: Revenue from red-light tickets down across central Florida

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ORLANDO, Fla. - At the end of 2013, the State of Florida presented drivers with a small gift: longer yellow-light times at intersections with red-light cameras. 

The changes, only fractions of a second in some cases, forced many cities to adjust the time for lights and may be responsible for a significant drop in ticket revenue.

According to documents obtained by Eyewitness News, almost every city in central Florida that has red-light cameras has experienced a dip in revenue in the last 11 months. 

With the exception of Orange County, which signed a contract for 80 new cameras in 2013, and Ocoee, which has also added cameras, the drop in revenue has in some cases reached into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Winter Park and Kissimmee are both down 11 percent in red-light revenue over the last 11 months.  Maitland (down 17 percent), Orlando (down 19 percent) and Haines City (down 22 percent) are all reporting a decrease in revenue since July 2013.   

While each of these cities has experienced a drop in revenue, Palm Bay is down by the greatest percentage with a 48 percent drop since July 2013. 

Apopka, which in March lengthened some of its yellow-light times, saw a 41 percent drop, a loss of $801,614 versus the same time in 2012-13. 

While Apopka had the largest dollar differential, the city said the changes to red-light tickets has more to do with drivers changing habits in the way they drive and where they drive.  The city points to its own data on road congestion saying more drivers are using bypasses around Apopka, avoiding the downtown red-light cameras.

“We’ve had a reduction in the amount of violations and infractions that have occurred in the city,” said Chuck Vavrek of the City of Apopka.  “We’re sending people on other alternative roadways to help relieve downtown traffic.”

The cost of a red-light camera ticket in Florida is $158, with $70 sent to the state’s general revenue fund, $13 sent to state trust funds and the remainder, $75, retained by the city to pay for the cameras.