Red-light cameras about to go dark?

If the Texas Legislature forces cities to take down their red-light cameras — devices that aid local police departments in enforcing traffic laws — I fear we’re going to see an uptick in wrecks caused by reckless driving.

Sad times might lie ahead.

The Legislature is pondering whether to rescind the authority it granted cities a few years ago to deploy these devices at dangerous intersections. Local law enforcement and traffic officials were able to determine the most dangerous intersections in their cities; they deployed the cameras to take pictures of license plates on motor vehicles that ran through red lights. Cities then send citations to the registered owners of the vehicles, who then are told to pay fines.

I believe the cameras have deterred over time the rash of red-light violations in cities throughout the state.

Some folks keep bitching about them, though. I guess they’ve caught the attention of legislators and the governor, Greg Abbott, who’s now on board with the movement to take down the cameras.

That would be a shame.

Amarillo was one of the Texas cities to make use of the technology. Yes, it brought out the gripers. They complained to the city that they didn’t like being “busted” by machines; they considered the cameras to be unfair.

I laughed when I heard such nonsense. I also like harkening back to a retort offered a few years ago by a member of the City Council.

Then-Amarillo City Councilwoman Ellen Green said it succinctly and cogently. “If you don’t want to pay the fine,” she said during a council meeting, “then don’t run the red lights.”

Cities always can use the technological help the cameras provide. I hope the Legislature rethinks its move toward taking them down.

My hope doesn’t quite match my fear of what the Legislature is going to do.

One thought on “Red-light cameras about to go dark?”

  1. Yes, we are hearing a bit on the Red Light Cameras. Those opposed to them are claiming ” invasion of privacy” I’m thinking that if you are on a public street, that you have no privacy and expect none.

    The cameras take a picture of the vehicle and the license plate. The camera does not show who is driving. The driver’s privacy is protected in that instance, however the vehicle’s privacy is violated. (Does a vehicle have a right to “privacy”)

    There is a camera at the end of our street. The last time I checked the results, it was issuing over 850 red light citations per month Over 10,000 drivers in Amarillo run just this ” one” red light per year. How is this safe?

    A year or so, a woman from Vega wrote a letter to the Editor of the Amarillo paper. She received a ticket for running a red light. In her letter, she stated that she never “receives a ticket at other red lights” suggesting she runs other “Red Lights” in Town that maybe don’t have cameras. She then threatened to shop elsewhere.

    I couldn’t resist. I responded to her letter. I pointed out to her that “Running a Red Light was illegal as well as dangerous. Technically, she broke the law, she was a bad driver, she was at fault and that taking her business elsewhere probably wouldn’t hurt our economy, but would certainly make our streets safer.”

    A driver doesn’t really have to pay the fine. There’s no real teeth in the law. Technically, those who don’t pay the tickets (issued by the city) could have their licenses ( issued by the state) non-renewed for failure to pay the fine, or their plates could be non-renewed ( by the county) for the same reason, but this would require cooperation between the City, the County and the State to do this….. and I don’t see that as happening.

    I asked the Mayor a few years ago, how many of the “Red Light” tickets are actually paid. He replied, “Just over 90%.”

    Well the money goes to the City and perhaps the county and the state. I just look at it as allowing “Bad” drivers to pay for the privilege of running Red Lights.”

    Those who are complaining to Austin about Red Light Cameras, in my opinion , have no reason to object. It’s not a privacy issue…… it’s a safety issue. And those complaining are most likely offenders.

    Keep the cameras and add more. Perhaps 1% of the offenders will improve their driving habits. The other 99% are just paying for the privilege of ignoring safe driving habits and for breaking the law.

    Now if we equipped the cameras with high power laser disintegrators…………. well just a thought

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