It’s fine that minds change … but why not explain the shift?

I guess the Amarillo Globe-News has taken a 180-degree turn on the issue of red-light cameras.

The newspaper’s editorial page published an editorial today that all but sings the praises of efforts to unplug red-light cameras in cities all across Texas. The state House has approved a bill that takes away cities’ authority to deploy the devices.

The Globe-News used to favor the cameras. I know because I was editor of the opinion page at the time and we spoke quite fervently in support of the devices that Amarillo City Hall deployed to assist police officers in their efforts to deter motorists from disobeying traffic signals’ command to stop at red lights.

Well, the corporate ownership has changed. A new publisher runs the Globe-News. They have a new “director of commentary,” too. So today the paper has signaled the pending demise of red-light cameras.

The paper takes seriously the “Big Brother” concerns from opponents who contend that the cameras deny accused lawbreakers the chance to “face their accuser.” That, in my view, is pure baloney. Those caught running red lights can appeal the penalty; thus, they can “face their accuser.”

The paper doesn’t actually declare that it has changed its mind. It nearly does so, though.

Which I guess brings me to my point: If the newspaper is going to walk back its once-firm view on the use of certain mechanical devices to crack down on motorists who disobey traffic laws, doesn’t it owe its readers an explanation into why it has all but reversed course?

Check out the editorial here.

It saddens me.

One thought on “It’s fine that minds change … but why not explain the shift?”

  1. The problem with having the Amarillo Newspaper written and Published in Lubbock is like night and Day. Two different cities that are NOT like minded.

    Lubbock installed Red Light Cameras in 2007. The result… Rear End Collisions doubled. One reason was that Lubbock refused to lengthen the Yellow light timing, despite recommendations by the Texas Transportation Institute. Consequently, Lubbock discontinued the Red Light Cameras in 2008.

    Amarillo did not experience a significant increase in rear end accidents. Perhaps, Amarillo drivers are not as aggressive and Lubbock drivers, but my sense of Amarillo drivers (and most likely Lubbock Drivers,) is the drivers adopted the David Farragut approach to driving, “Damn the Red Light, Full speed ahead.”

    Actually in Amarillo, statistics show that “Fatal” accidents decreased 30% over the next two years after traffic camera light were installed. Coincidence, perhaps, but it’s possible that Red Light Cameras contributed to that decrease.

    Over the years, with the rise of Large SUV’s and Pickup Trucks with horsepower greater than that of the Titanic, the drivers have become more aggressive. Couple that with the fact that many drive with one eye on their phone and the other eye checking out the driver in the car next to them, that perhaps a red light ticket might be a wake up call (although it may be for only a fleeting moment.

    The cry that, “it is an invasion of my privacy” (you’re on a public street, do you have any expectation of privacy?) seems a moot argument ” I don’t have the right to face my accuser.” The camera takes a pretty good picture of the vehicle rolling through the light.” All you are required to do is prove that the vehicle wasn’t yours and you had no incidence of ownership at the time of the infraction. The camera however does not photograph the driver. The vehicle owner has some responsibility over who is allowed to drive the vehicle. If your kid was driving, aren’t you responsible as a parent. If, your wife was driving…….. perhaps it’s best not to mention it. (Or in my case, it was a mechanic doing a test drive and I had the papers with date and time in the dealership, and time out from the dealership, showing I was not in possession of the vehicle. The dealership had to take care of the problem and prove to me it was taken care of, and my name had been removed from the citation.)

    The problem is, that bad drivers, and inattentive drivers do not want to take responsibility for their actions.

    The other questions are “how many legislators received a red light ticket.” and “How many big campaign contributors got tickets, and complained to their state legislators”

    Another positive about the Red Light Camera is the State required that a portion of the revenue was to de directed to the Regional Trauma Center account. This will be a financial impact to a number of people and taxpayers who fund this things.

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