Red Light Camera Program Goes to Voters
by: Laurie Johnson, August 24, 2010 11:08:00 pm
In a confrontation that appears to be more about politics than policy, red light cameras are again at the center of
debate in city hall.
Because the red light camera petition was certified, council is required to put it on the ballot for a vote.
The petition was led by Michael Kubosh, a traffic ticket attorney.
"Red light cameras have proven through all independent studies that's ever been done that the cameras increase accidents at the intersections. These are dangerous cameras, they cause accidents, it's a revenue-gathering tool by cities and by vendors."
Across the table is a political action committee called Keep Houston Safe. Its proponents include Houston Mayor Annise Parker, the HPD Officer's Union, and a number of Houston heavyweights including Jim McIngvale and Edd Hendee.
The group also gets funding from at least one red light camera vendor who contracts with the City of Houston.
Jim McGrath is spokesman for the group.
"Between the middle part of 2009 and January of this year, the number of citations were reduced by 33 percent. That means one out of three people that was running red lights last year, aren't running them this year, essentially is what it means. And to us that means that the program is working, it is raising awareness and it is changing motorist behavior."
This is where the issue gets sticky. Both groups use the same set of data to support their claims.
The numbers come from a study done by Bob Stein at Rice University in conjunction with the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M.
So red light citations are down, but rear-end collisions are up at nearly half of the intersections that have cameras. If that leaves you confused, wait until the groups start their ad campaigns heading into the election. And that's assuming the petition actually ends up on the ballot. Opponents will likely try to block it through the legal system.
Laurie Johnson. KUHF News.