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7/18/2007
More Cities Avoid Red Light Cameras
Although red light cameras continue to spread, some jurisdictions in California, Florida and Texas are resisting automated ticketing.

Orange County, Florida commissioners
An increasing number of cities in California, Florida and Texas are rejecting the slick sales presentation of red light camera vendors. For example, over the past two years, dozens of cities in Texas, including Austin, Dallas, Houston and El Paso have begun to use the machines to issue automated $75 tickets to motorists. A pair of smaller towns show that at least some jurisdictions have begun to think twice.

Yesteday, the city of Los Fresnos unanimously voted against a plan to install red light cameras. Likewise, on July 10, Kerrville's city council decided that, instead of red light cameras, the city should examine increasing the length of the yellow warning period at intersections. The Texas Transportation Institute found that this simple fix reduced the number of collisions by 40 percent (read study)

The same day, the city council in La Puente, California unanimously decided not even to bother with further study of red light cameras. City staff recommended the cameras because it was the thing to do. Many nearby cities had used them, but the officials had no specific evidence that the devices ever contributed to any decrease in accidents. La Puente Mayor Louis R. Perez said patrolling intersections was the job of the city's two motorcycle traffic officers.

"They're a presence in the community not only for traffic violations," Perez said.

Another councilman rejected the camera idea because studies show red light cameras can increase rear-end collisions. Studies also show the cameras increase angle collisions and injury crashes (view study).

In Orange County, Florida commissioners rejected a plan to ticket motorists with red light cameras after the county attorney declared that such tickets were illegal, following a 2005 ruling from then Attorney General (now Governor) Charlie Crist. Crist explained that a local red light camera ordinance violates Section 316.007 of Florida statutes (view ruling). Despite the law forbidding them from doing so, Apopka and Orlando are proceeding with their own ticketing programs. Orange County will still install cameras, but they will not issue citations.



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