As previously discussed in this post, the Austin, TX City Council voted late last year, to approve installing red light cameras at selected intersections throughout the city.
As of Memorial Day 2008, they’re live, recording violators and sending that information to the city of Austin, so they can mail those unfortunate drivers a little surprise in the mail.
Everyone knows that you shouldn’t “run a red light.” Doing so is VERY dangerous, and can cost you your life — Or, worse yet, the life of someone else. But, just what constitutes a violation, and potential ticket? A little over a week ago, someone poised just that question in a Letter to the Editor of the Austin American-Statesman. The editor chose to publish the question, but offered no comment or explanation! THAT’S helpful!
To answer this question, I refer to a publication that most, if not all, drivers in Texas have studied at one point or another. It’s the standard for driving schools and driver’s education classes all across Texas – the Texas Drivers Handbook. I also will refer to the Texas Transportation Code, Section 544.007 to see what the state of Texas has to say about the subject.
Here’s what the Texas Drivers Handbook has to say about red lights:
Steady red Light
Stop before entering the crosswalk or intersection. You may turn right unless prohibited by law. You may also turn left if both streets are one way unless prohibited by law. You must yield to all pedestrians and other traffic lawfully using the intersection.
Just what exactly does “before entering the … intersection” mean? Well, for clarification, we can refer to Section 544.007 of the Transportation Code. It states:
§ 544.007. TRAFFIC-CONTROL SIGNALS IN GENERAL
(a) A traffic-control signal displaying different colored lights or colored lighted arrows successively or in combination may display only green, yellow, or red and applies to operators of vehicles as provided by this section.
(b) An operator of a vehicle facing a circular green signal[...]
(c) An operator of a vehicle facing a green arrow signal [...]
(d) An operator of a vehicle facing only a steady red signal shall stop at a clearly marked stop line. In the absence of a stop line, the operator shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection. [...]
So, we can infer from (d) above, that if your bumper crosses either the stop line or the beginning of the crosswalk AFTER the signal has turned red, you have violated the law (unless you’re legally turning right on red). But, what if there is no line or crosswalk? Well, then, it’s just gonna be up to the judgement of the driver and/or the law enforcement officer. I will tell you, though, that if there’s a red light camera installed, there WILL be either a stop line or a crosswalk, or both.
By the way, stop lines and crosswalk rules apply for stop signs as well.
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