Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law that I wish he hadn’t signed. It was a bill that disallows cities from deploying red-light cameras to aid in enforcing traffic safety laws.
Ah, but here’s an interesting catch: An amendment to the bill approved by the Legislature allows cities to keep the cameras operating until their current vendor contracts expire. That means that while cities can terminate contracts for cause, they also can keep them operating for the length of the contract.
One city that has the cameras in place is Amarillo. I strongly supported Amarillo’s decision to use the devices to deter motorists from running red lights. I also strongly support the city’s apparent decision to stay the course until its contract with the vendor runs out.
Amarillo’s contract with American Traffic Solutions expires in September 2022. So, for more than three more years the city will be able to rely on the cameras to be on guard against lawbreakers when the police are looking the other way.
Unlike some cities knuckled under to some critics of the devices, Amarillo recently expanded the deployment locations, believing it had identified troublesome intersections; it did remove the cameras at some other intersections as well.
So, it’s a good-news, bad-news sort of thing. Some cities will get to keep the devices on duty for the length of their contracts; that’s the good news.
The bad news is that the contracts will expire eventually.
Then what? Will these Texas communities’ motorists and pedestrians be exposed to those who just don’t bother to follow the instructions to stop when the street signals turn red?