New Law Likely to Pass State Legislature Soon
The $75 traffic citation arrives in the mail. You might rack your brain as you try to remember if you ran a red light. Or you might reluctantly admit that you did. You might even concede that our roads have been safer since red-light cameras were introduced into the Texas roads landscape in the early 2000s. Now these annoying but potentially life-saving cameras will become a thing of the past.
The Texas Senate voted yesterday to ban red-light cameras across the state. The new law, SB 714, will eliminate them in two phases. First, the law would prohibit installation of new cameras, then they would slowly be removed as the contracts between municipalities and camera operators expire. So don’t get too excited; the cameras will be on our streets for years to come.
Sen. Bob Hall introduced the bill because he believes that the cameras “trample on constitutional rights” while doing little to improve public safety. The Senate overwhelmingly passed the measure on a 23-7 vote. The bill has now been sent to the House, where it also has substantial support and will pass.
Several Texas cities have already voted to prohibit the use of red-light cameras. But on the other hand, the Fort Worth City Council recently voted to continue the program due to its efficacy, and many other cities believe that they have reduced crashes at intersections.
Have Red-Light Cameras Increased Rear-End Auto Collisions?
Some believe that the cameras have actually increased the number of accidents as drivers suddenly apply their brakes as they arrive at a yellow light turning red. My firm has handled its share of these cases.
But the vast majority of drivers slow down ahead of time and stop, preventing crashes. Plano and Richardson safety officials testified before a Senate committee that their cities had experienced 40% and 28% fewer accidents at intersections monitored by these cameras. The senators didn’t seem to be impressed.
Some people believe the programs were started to generate substantial revenue for the cities. Fort Worth has raked in more than $43 million from red-light camera citations since 2008. Only a small portion has gone to the Texas trauma fund, which was a major justification for the cameras in the first place.