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11/28/2007
Houston Red Light Cameras Bring Record Profits
Houston, Texas red light camera setup mails out $2 million in tickets every month.

Houston skyline
Houston, Texas has solved the problem caused by a law that took effect in September forcing the city to split one-half of red light camera profit with the state. By citing motorists for turning right on red and installing twenty new cameras in high-volume locations, Houston is pocketing more money than it did before the profit limitation law kicked in.

Tickets mailed in September were worth $882,525 but jumped to $2 million in October as a result of the changes. Some $270,000 of the increase came from motorists who turned on red and about $950,000 came from the new locations. The Houston Police Department denied the changes were designed to make up for lost revenue.

"I never ever thought about those things," Assistant Police Chief Martha Montalvo told the Houston Chronicle.

Net profit to the city is at the highest point ever, contrary to the intention of legislators who sought to rein in the explosion in red light camera deployments by cutting into profits. Legislators also intended that the state's share of the automated ticketing revenue stream be sent to trauma centers, but no money will reach them. Although the law authorized funds for the centers, legislators neglected to actually budget the funds in appropriations legislation. This cannot be corrected until lawmakers meet again in 2009.

Although a financial success, the city cannot claim the program has been a safety success. At least four of the original red light camera locations chosen had no significant accident history. A year after the devices were installed, seven intersections saw increases in the number of accidents.

Source: Catches rise with Houstons redlight cams (Houston Chronicle (TX), 11/28/2007)

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