9/28/2007Texas Cities Must Appoint Red Light Camera Boards
New law forces Texas cities with red light cameras to appoint oversight committee that includes the views of councilmen who oppose photo enforcement.
A little-noticed provision of Texas law took effect at the beginning of the month to force cities using red light cameras to appoint citizen oversight panels. The provision caused disruption in the city of Lubbock's red light camera plans yesterday.
According to Texas Transportation Code Section 707.003: "A local authority shall report results of the traffic engineering study required by Subsection (c) to a citizen advisory committee consisting of one person appointed by each member of the governing body of the local authority. The committee shall advise the local authority on the installation and operation of a photographic traffic signal enforcement system established under this chapter."
No camera installed after September 1 may issue a citation without this citizen's panel first reviewing a detailed engineering assessment that presents alternatives to photo ticketing. The Texas Transportation Institute, for example, found in 2005 that merely adding one second of yellow warning time at traffic signals beyond the minimum amount yielded a forty percent accident reduction (view report).
The wording of the law ensures that city council members who oppose the use of red light cameras have the right to appoint representatives to the oversight panel. Lubbock Councilman John Leonard, for example, said in February that the mayor's sole concern in the program has been raising revenue. The council failed yesterday to reach agreement regarding the board's composition, delaying the decision until the next council meeting.
Existing red light camera programs are run entirely city employees under the mayor's direction. The new law will allow automated ticketing opponents, for the first time ever, an opportunity to promote safer alternatives.
View the Lubbock ordinance in a 680k PDF file at the source link below.