MANATEE COUNTY — After the death of her husband, East County resident Melissa Wandall grew certain the placement of red-light cameras at major intersections would help save people’s lives and educate the public about the dangers of running red lights.
Mark had been killed by a red-light runner just miles from their home, and about a week before the birth of their first child, Madisyn, now 8. With the help of former state legislator Ron Reagan, the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act, which regulates the use of cameras for enforcing traffic control laws, was signed into law May 13, 2010.
And within just 18 months of being implemented, the act has generated more than $2 million for The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, the world’s most comprehensive spinal cord injury research center, and $6.67 million for trauma centers throughout the state of Florida.
Wandall said she was overwhelmed when she first heard the figures last month.
“I hope people will understand the good the cameras are bringing to the state of Florida,” Wandall said, noting $3 dollars of each $158 ticket goes toward the cause, and another $10 of each ticket goes to trauma centers. “The people we’re able to help through the red-light safety cameras is just amazing.
“(My husband’s life) is bringing hope to so many people,” she said. “The lives that have been saved through his death (because of education) already have been numerous. Now, it goes beyond that. It’s giving people another chance at life.”
Reagan, who with Wandall’s support, spent about three years trying to get the red light camera legislation passed, said he also was surprised by how much money the Traffic Safety Act already had generated.
“I thought it wouldn’t be that high,” he said. “That shows you the incidents of red-light running. Those (numbers) are only from those tickets that were issued by a camera (at designated intersections). They’re not all over the place.
“I believe (the cameras) are showing they are needed,” he said. “(This data shows) we still have a high incident of people who run red lights, and hopefully they won’t run them a second time and it will lead to less accidents and less injuries. That was always my goal — public safety.”
Wandall said her commitment, through the foundation she named in her husband’s honor, to nurture children who have suffered a tragic loss remains strong, but her passion for educating the public about traffic safety and compliance also remains at the forefront.
“People aren’t paying attention in their ‘loaded weapons,’” she said.
Wandall speaks on the issue at schools and the Foundation also is represented at safety and traffic safety venues throughout the year.
For more information on Wandall's camera-related efforts, visit www.melissawandall.com.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].
BY THE NUMBERS
American Traffic Systems provides partners with municipalities throughout Florida to provide close to 600 red-light safety cameras in districts of more than 70 municipalities. Nationally, it has almost 3,000 operational cameras, which it runs for nearly 300 municipalities, said Kate Coulson, manager of communications and outreach for ATS.
Data from the Florida Department of Revenue shows in Manatee County, from March to June 2011, red-light cameras generated $264,347, and statewide, they generated $19.77 million.