Friday, March 21, 2008

Lawmaker Wants To Outlaw "Red-Light" Cameras

The city government in Lubbock recently rescinded their contract for red-light cameras in their city. These cameras take a picture of cars running traffic lights that have turned red, so the owner can be sent a civil traffic ticket for breaking the law and endangering fellow citizens.

The city said they discontinued use of the cameras because accidents had risen in their city after they had been installed.They make it sound like they had created a more dangerous situation for motorists.

I don't believe it. While there may have been a rise in rear-end collisions, I believe the number of these collisions would have gone back down after the public became used to the cameras.

In addition, the rear-end collisions are not nearly as serious and life-threatening as the side-impact collisions caused by people running red lights at a higher speed. I think the "rise in accidents" was just an excuse.

I think they had begun to get negative feedback from citizens opposed to the lights, and these elected officials began to worry about keeping their jobs in the next election. Sadly, they considered their jobs more important than citizen safety.

Now we hear from John Kanelis of the Amarillo Globe-Republican, that a Lubbock lawmaker wants to outlaw the red-light cameras all across the state. Rep. Carl Isett wants to introduce a law in the 2009 legislature that would outlaw the cameras in every Texas city.

Isett (pictured above) listed a couple of reasons for wanting the camera ban. First he says they are a violation of a driver's privacy. This makes no sense. The cameras don't take a picture of the driver, but only of the back license plate of the car. That plate is already hanging out there for anyone to see. How can taking a picture of it be a violation of privacy rights?

Isett also said the cameras were just a "money trap" for the city. I don't know how every city handles the funds raised in this manner, but here in Amarillo every cent of that money will be spent to make our streets safer to drive on. That's the kind of "money trap" that I approve of.

Isett's hometown has already banned the cameras. He should let the other cities in Texas make up their own mind. His opinion is neither needed nor wanted.


  1. This is well stated, but I would like to point out that this entry does nothing to address the practices of "churning" stop lights, nor does it address the several US cities proven to have shortened yellow light times significantly. While red light cameras are cost effective and likely save far more lives than they endanger, they by no means are beyond abuse. Many cities stand accused of succumbing to "addictive amounts" of revenue from red light ticketing practices.

    My opinions are as follows: Motorists should always be allotted 1) enough time to perceive a changing light, 2) enough space to perform a full stop, as prescribed in driving handbooks we all once read upon receiving licensure, and 3) a fair chance to appeal ticketing decisions they feel are in question, without prohibitive cost. If research suggests scenarios where drivers are simply not capable of stopping for a red light (and I suggest all opponents and proponents of red light camera laws verse themselves in the research, rather than opinions only), it becomes questionable at best as to whether we should be ticketing citizens in this manner.

  2. I agree. The red light cameras should be illegal. It's supposed to be police catching the people, not a computer.

    It makes ppl paranoid to drive and in some ways, overcautiousness causes more accidents.

    This is, very obviously, a money trap for a city that has a budget deficit that is no ones fault but the ppl who implemented the careless spending. Why should we be accountable for others mistakes?

  3. I don't live in Texas (I'm in California)...but I think red light cameras should be outlawed. We're starting to get them everywhere here. I can tell you that it's TRUE on the traffic lights where cameras have been installed, the yellow cycle is much shorter. I've actually stood at an intersection and timed it. There was one intersection where we knew a camera was going to be installed. I timed the cycles before the camera was installed and after. The yellow was much shorter afterward.

    I don't know whether it's just a software glitch or if the city does it on purpose to trap people. But I think it's intentional.

    And YES, the cameras are a safety hazard. I have personally witnessed accidents caused by traffic cameras. Peopole get so nervous when they get to an intersection now that they slam on their brakes even when the light first turns yellow. I've seen two rear-end collisions CAUSED by a traffic camera. And there were injuries in one of them...luckily, they were minor.

    - Chris


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