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Red Means Stop!

Posted 1 March 2001 - The House Public Safety Committee voted in favor of HB 1115 which would allow cities to install cameras at intersections to enforce traffic signal laws.  If the bill passes to become law, it is likely that Lubbock will install several cameras at intersections around the city.

How would "Red Light" cameras work?

When a traffic light changes to red, sensors buried in the road would become active.  Any vehicle that crosses the intersection will trigger the camera to take two pictures.  The first image shows the vehicle behind the violation line on a red light and the second image proves that the vehicle continued through intersection.  One or more cameras might be used.  View an animation of how it works.

The bill that the Texas Legislature is considering would allow for a $75 penalty to be charged as a fine to violators.  In most circumstances the equipment is paid for with revenues from the fines in about two-years.  Although primarily designed for traffic enforcement, the equipment can be configured to alert a central monitoring facility in the event of an accident at the intersection.

Some frequently asked questions
Compiled from policies of various municipalities from around the United States.

What if I wasn't driving my car?   If you are the vehicle's registered owner and someone else was driving your car, you may complete a portion of the citation which identifies the driver and return it by mail. The ticket can be dismissed and reissued to the person who was driving.

What happens if a company owns the vehicle which was photographed?   If a company is the registered owner of a vehicle photographed by a red light camera, the company receives a Notice of Violation, along with a photograph of the vehicle and the driver. To avoid further prosecution the company is asked to provide the name and address of the driver or lessee before the date printed on the notice.

So is this really going to reduce crashes at intersections?
More than 800 people die, and some 200,000 are injured each year because someone ran a red light.  Between 1992 and 1998 over 6000 people died in such crashes and almost half of those were pedestrians.  In communities where red light cameras have been installed, accidents at intersection have been reduced by 40 percent.  

Who runs red lights?   The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety created a profile of red light runners by studying driver behavior at an intersection equipped with a red light camera. The study compared red light runners to motorists who had an opportunity to run a red light but didn't. As a group, red light runners were younger, less likely to use safety belts, had poorer driving records, and drove smaller and older vehicles than drivers who stopped for red lights. Red light runners were more than three times as likely to have multiple speeding convictions on their driver records. No gender differences were found between violators and drivers who didn't run red lights.

Isn't conventional police enforcement sufficient?   Enforcing traffic laws in dense urban areas by traditional means poses special difficulties for police, who in most cases must follow a violating vehicle through a red light to stop it. This can endanger motorists and pedestrians as well as officers, and police can't be everywhere at once. Communities don't have the resources to allow police to patrol intersections as often as would be needed to ticket all motorists who run red lights. The cameras allow police to focus on other enforcement needs.

Updates on House Bill 1115

As this bill works its way through the Texas Legislature, the Lubbock Radio Network will update this story.