Red-light cams up for scrutiny?

Amarillo isn’t Chicago, a fact that makes many residents in the Texas Panhandle quite grateful.

A story out of the Windy City, however, might serve warning for Amarillo traffic engineers to perhaps take a look at some technology being employed here to stop red-light runners.

Chicago city officials are reviewing thousands of citations issued as a result of motorists being caught by the electronic devices. They have issued many enough citations to generate about $400 million in revenue since 2007, about the time Amarillo deployed its red-light cameras at selected intersections.

Critics in Chicago have questioned the validity of the tickets, noting a dramatic increase in citations at certain intersections.

What’s the problem? Is it the vendor that supplied the equipment to Chicago? Is there some under-handedness going on that, given that it’s Chicago after all, isn’t surprising to some of us?

I continue to support the concept of using these devices to help police intersections where motorists frequently run through red lights. Chicago officials, though, note that the cameras there have produced only a negligible improvement in the safety on city streets.

That’s sure to bring out the critics in Amarillo, even though they seem to be relatively few.

Still, the questions surrounding Chicago’s deployment of the cameras should give other cities that use them reason to examine their own enforcement policies.

That should include little ol’ Amarillo, Texas.

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