Amarillo city commissioners are getting pressure from petitioners seeking repeal of an important city ordinance.
They should resist this call.
At issue is whether to keep the ordinance that enabled the city to install cameras at intersections to catch those who run through red lights. The city deployed cameras at six intersections initially, then voted to expand the deployment to three more. The concept is a simple one: The cameras photograph the license plates of the offending vehicles and the city then sends citations to the owners of the vehicles, who then can pay the fine or appeal the citation to the municipal court. If they win, they don’t pay; if they lose they pay up.
I’m still struggling with the logic behind the complaints, which I think are overstated, meaning I don’t believe a majority of Amarillo motorists object to the cameras – and honestly, I question whether the complainers comprise even a significant minority of Amarillo residents.
The petitioners are saying the city should hire more traffic police rather than relying on machinery to catch offending motorists. Are those petitioners then willing to pay more tax money for the cops? Do they have any idea how expensive it would be to station enough traffic police around the city stem this tide of red-light running?
Of course the complaints have run the full range of ridiculousness: the cameras invade motorists’ privacy; the cameras are just to make money for the city; offenders want to face a human accuser instead of a camera.
The cameras have worked. They have generated revenue for the city to spend on traffic improvements, which state law requires. They also have helped deter red-light runners who are aware of the presence of the cameras, given that the city must post warning signs at every intersection where it has deployed the cameras. They have prevented potentially serious auto accidents.
The best answer to the complaints is one that’s been given already by city commissioners and traffic officials, but it deserves to be repeated here: If you don’t like the cameras, then obey the law, don’t run the red lights and you have nothing to worry about.