Drivers Beware: New Cameras Spreading in Texas

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Texans do not want their tax dollars paying for traffic cameras that are a revenue stream disguised as a public safety measure. While state lawmakers have failed to act, citizens across Texas are fighting to ban red light cameras, and winning.

Red-light cameras are voted out in almost every city that puts them on the ballot. A statewide ban passed in the Texas Senate, but stalled in the House, and now thousands of citizens have signed a petition, recently delivered to Governor Abbott, to add a state-wide ban to the Governor’s Special Session call.

Meanwhile, cities are fighting to hold onto their cash-cow cameras. In recent years, even counties have tried to get into the game, which they don’t have the legal authority to do. With red-light cameras on the chopping block, the new ploy is cameras set to catch cars speeding in school zones and passing school buses while the stop arm is deployed.

Companies such as American Traffic Solutions (ATS) are attempting to tug the heartstrings of citizens so they will accept these new cameras.  Many Texans recognize them for what they are; a new revenue source for cash-hungry local governments.

These cameras are not necessary.  There are already processes in place to reduce the risk of tragedies.  If a school zone has a problem with speeders, they can increase police presence in those areas.  The same goes for people passing school buses.  Many districts – if they have a problem route – will have an officer ride the bus and radio a nearby patrol car if the officer sees someone illegally pass the bus.  If someone is legitimately putting the lives of children in danger, they should be issued a ticket by a police officer, not mailed a civil violation from a camera.

Proponents of these cameras will say it’s cost prohibitive to have officers present.  They fail to mention the fact that it is those same police officers staring at computer screens for hours, analyzing camera footage.  Is it better to have those officers behind a desk, or out in the community keeping people safe? If the desired outcome is safety, and not revenue generation, actual police presence is the most effective, cost efficient way to enforce traffic laws.

Public safety is a core function of government and should be managed by actual officers, not cameras. Officers respond in real time, stopping the speeder or the person illegally passing the bus in real time, not days or weeks after the fact. The tickets they issue are for the driver, not the vehicle.  With cameras, the penalty goes to the owner of the car, who may be innocent of the crime.  Actual traffic citations also allow the accused their day in court, the chance for a judge or jury trial.

We all want safer streets. No one wants children to be injured while walking to school or crossing the street in front of a school bus. If drivers are putting children in danger, they should be stopped, but in the proper way. Speed and Stop-arm cameras are NOT the answer.

Citizens should be further encouraged to reject them right along with the red-light cameras.  Contact your city council, school board, and state legislators and make your voice heard.


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