First LA, Now Houston…No More Red Light Camera Enforcement

Houston is the most recent city to say no to red-light camera enforcement, ending it’s program yesterday.

Opponents of the red-light cameras claim they did not make intersections more safe, were an invasion of privacy and that this is the beginning of a nationwide trend to abandon the devices.

Supporters claim that these cameras do indeed save lives and that more than 500 municipalities, including Washington DC and New York, are still successfully employing camera programs.

Houston residents voted nine months ago to end the camera enforcement program. After months of legal challenges to this vote, the Houston City Council voted to end the program, even though cancellation could cost the city as much as $25 million.

Several on the council who voted to end the program still maintain that they support the cameras but indicated the importance of respecting “the will of the people.”

Los Angeles saw it’s camera program come to an end after the City Council voted on July 31 7-5 to allow their contract to expire without renewal.

LAPD claims these cameras did increase safety, citing a 62% decrease in red-light traffic collisions. However, it’s worth noting that opponents have always questioned the safety related “evidence” in support of red light cameras. For example, does this 62% number take into account the number of rear end accidents caused by people slamming on their brakes in fear of a camera summons or the number of accidents caused by people cutting corners or traveling residential roadways to avoid major camera enforced intersections?

The main issue in LA was that the program was ineffective because fines were not always collected. One Councilman cited the courts failure to use the tools at their disposal to hold people responsible and force them to pay their fines. Instead, too many fines went uncollected and what would have been a profitable venture became a losing one.

Houston and Los Angeles have spoken but this isn’t the last we’ll hear of this issue around the country.

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