Protest Red Light Cameras in Austin, Texas!
Red light cameras present several constitutional issues (due process, privacy statutes and possibly the 14th Amendment/equal protection clause) and they are ineffective.
- Studies nationwide show rear-end collisions have risen anywhere from 8-81% where implemented, and the drivers who cause the worst collisions are shown to be the least likely to account for the cameras’ presence.
- The programs are open to corruption: private vendors profit from fines levied spawning illegal and unethical measures to increase fines; they have access to private information without any public accountability.
- Prevention is easier and less expensive: instead of lowering yellow light times to increase fines, upping them one second can decrease collisions by 40%!
Austin Red Light Camera Map
Red light cameras are: invasive, ineffective and potentially illegal. Don’t let City Council use your money to install cameras that threaten your constitutional liberty.
Prevention is easier and MUCH less expensive. A study by the Texas Transportation Institute reported that adding an extra second of yellow light time can cut accidents by 40%+ (1) . There are other, simple alternatives that don’t violate liberties such as: retiming lights to synch at consecutive intersections, installing counters to visibly display when the light will change, adding an all-red clearance interval (a brief period where the lights in all directions are red), and improving visibility by installing larger lights or metal backers ALL contribute greatly to the reduction of red light-running. (2)
Virginia has already ceased their red light camera programs-banning them based on increased accident rates, and the Florida Attorney General has ruled against them. Many other states have been rejecting the systems in their legislatures.
Unequal application of the law violates our civil liberties. In Texas, the lowering of the camera-issued tickets to a civil fine vs. the criminal misdemeanor of a standard officer-written ticket, risks being in violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. The civil charge though, in this case, has the most punitive aspects of a criminal charge (proof of burden, etc.) with none of the protections.
The systems target the car’s owner, NOT the driver, and the government should not have the right to accuse anyone of violating the law if they cannot face their accuser. They are currently suing Davenport, Iowa for being in violation of a state law that requires the identity of drivers receiving a ticket to be proven and have already won similar cases in Minneapolis, MN and Albuquerque, NM.
Reports are showing the systems regularly ticket innocent people: just because a picture of a car has been taken doesn’t mean that the person sent a ticket did anything wrong. California issued nearly $10,000 in bogus red light camera tickets (not including court costs to correct matters).
- A study of Washington, D.C.’s 45 intersections with red-light cameras found injury and fatal crashes climbed 81%, and broadside wrecks — considered among the most dangerous — increased 30%
- From a study of a red light camera intersection in Ft. Collins, CO: 64% more citations were issued but accidents increased of 83%
- Philadelphia showed a 20% increase in accidents at red light camera intersections.
- The Virginia Department of Transportation increased the length of the yellow-light cycle by 1.5 seconds at an intersection with red light cameras resulting in a 94% drop in citations at the intersection. Virginia has ceased use of the cameras.
- In Ft. Collins, an intersection’s yellow light time was lengthened by one second, resulting in a 60% decrease in citations issued, and a 57% decrease in accidents.
- In 2001, Mesa, AZ, lengthened the time for yellow lights by one second, resulting in a 73% decrease in the number of citations issued by red light cameras.
Studies utilized by Council member Kim and proponents that cite either a decrease in accidents or red light running are all traceable to the corporations that produce and market the systems. The multitude of reports showing an increase in rear-end collisions and negligible decreases in red light running are done independently through government and traffic-safety entities.
The U.S. Department of Transportation said in a report: “In many ways, the evidence points toward the installation of red light cameras as a detriment to safety.” Numerous agencies have published findings that cite red light cameras not only increase rear end collisions (driver-panic) but that there are many other proven solutions that would increase safety at intersections for much less money and no room for error, such as increasing yellow light times and installing counters to alert drivers when the light will change. Findings show that people aren’t running red lights because they are choosing to, they are doing it because yellow light times are too short and short yellow light times are the major cause of collisions at intersections! (3)
The Federal Highway Administration, a reluctant proponent of the systems, still advises cities that they should at the least be used in conjunction with other proven measures as a secondary supplement, not as a first, lone fix. As it stands now, there are NO other options being discussed by the City.
- For more information: Bernie Fette, TTI Public Affairs Officer, (979) 845-2623, email@example.com
- National Motorists Association compilation of alternatives
- US House of Representatives Office of the Majority Leader report
Source: ACLU of Texas – Chapters.
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