TAMPA -- While most drivers who run red lights do it a split second or two after the signal changes, Tampa police Officer Corey Landrum remembers at least one glaring exception.
This driver blew through the red light 58 seconds -- that's right, nearly a minute -- after the light changed.
"He didn't even slow down," Landrum said. "It was 3 in the morning. That was the worst one we've seen."
Police have seen a lot when it comes to bad drivers caught in the act by red light cameras stationed at 19 intersections across Tampa.
Authorities have been issuing warnings since the first of October; as of Tuesday, however, those who run red lights will receive $158 traffic citations.
It is the job of Landrum and other Tampa police officers to look at video from the intersections and verify who has run red lights.
On Tuesday, four officers sat at computer monitors in a sixth-floor conference room at department headquarters downtown. With the click of a mouse, they pulled up video of red light runners across the city.
There were views of Busch Boulevard and Nebraska Avenue. Hillsborough and Armenia avenues. Gandy and West Shore boulevards, just to name a few.
Everywhere there are cameras, it seems, there are violators.
"Look how fast he takes this corner," one officer says to another as the video on one screen plays.
"That's bad," another says.
Cameras at intersections snap photographs of vehicles running a red light, then those photos are checked out by the company that owns the cameras. The company then turns over the photos to police, who make the final determination of who has violated the law.
If a violation is detected, a notice is sent through the mail to the owner of the vehicle.
More than 6,000 warnings already have been handed out. Police still have another 2,900 red light runners to view since the cameras were activated.
On Tuesday, police were watching people who had run red lights Oct. 13-14.
The hope is that drivers will be notified of violations within a week of when the offense occurred. As many as a dozen officers could be assigned to watch the video replay of intersections if needed, said Sgt. Carl. Giguere.
He's hoping, however, that won't be necessary.
"I think the number of violations is going to go down," the sergeant said. "I think people will be more aware going through the intersections."
Police hope to be able to break down what intersections are the worst for violators, and even what specific lanes have the most offenses, Giguere said.
So far, they haven't seen any crashes on the tapes. But they have seen many near-misses, the sergeant said.
"We want to reduce crashes at these intersections," he said. "We hope people will slow down and be more careful."
Copyright 2011 - Tampa Tribune, Fla.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service