Red Light Camera Controversy - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

7/20/04

Red Light Camera Controversy

Lubbock could be the second Texas city to have red light cameras installed at busy intersections. But not without controversy.

The wording of a piece of state legislation has at least one Lubbock city councilman raising his political eyebrow. So, the matter now is: Will red light cameras control the red light runners, or are they just a waste of money?

Red light runners have been proven deadly in Lubbock. Between August of 2002 and August of 2003, five people have died as a result of people running red lights. 350 collisions were reported, and more than 500 people have been seriously hurt.

Lubbock traffic engineer Jere Hart believes red light cameras can help reduce those accidents from occurring. Even Councilman Jim Gilbreath likes the idea because he says he sees too many people running red lights.

"It's amazing how blatant these people are. I see three to four cars going through," says Gilbreath.

Hart will propose to the Lubbock City Council on Wednesday that 12 cameras be put at six of Lubbock's major intersections like 34th St. and University. However, Councilman Tom Martin calls the cameras a "gimmick" that won't stop people from running red lights. He also says state legislation has determined tickets that are handed to red light violators are just civil fines.

In other words, people would not go to jail if the tickets did not get paid. Martin says it makes cameras a waste of the city's time and money.

"Right now, you end up with all these pictures of people who ran red lights with actually no way to collect the fines because you have no ability to process it like other criminal violations, like a regular red light ticket," says Martin.

Hart tells us that the City of Garland is the only Texas city with red light cameras. Houston, Richardson, Plano, Frisco, and Irving officials are strongly considering the installation of red light cameras.

Again, the traffic commission will present their proposal before the council Wednesday morning.

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