By Trey Rusk
I cannot think of a more Chicken Shit way for a city to make money than to use red light cameras. It turns out that Governor Greg Abbott agrees. Abbott signed HB 1631 just before the session ended on Memorial Day.
I have always believed that the cities that installed these devices did so as a money making scheme and not to curtail traffic accidents. In fact, I think red light cameras caused more accidents. The signs and the accompanying distracting photo flash designed to capture the vehicles license plate clearly pulled driver attention away from the road.
The cities made $75 a pop on the fines which was usually split between them and the red light camera company. An offender would receive a letter in the mail along with a photo of their vehicle running a red light. The offense was civil and hard to fight because many cities would place a hold on the vehicle registration until the penalty was paid.
One city in the area that I worked Auto Crimes had such a device. You knew you had run it because the flash would go off. The reason I thought they were Chicken Shit was because the yellow caution light could be manipulated by the company. In other words, a shorter yellow light means more violations and more money for both the city and red light camera company.
I hate to admit this, but they had quite a few pictures of my undercover vehicle due to the fact that I would be running a loose surveillance on someone and trip the camera. I never received a ticket because my vehicle plates were fictitious. I did get self satisfaction from knowing somebody was having to look up the information only to hit a dead end.
An amendment lets cities keep operating the cameras until their contracts with vendors expire, although some communities have begun negotiations to terminate the deals earlier. The law also prevents counties and Texas officials from refusing to register a vehicle amid unpaid red-light camera tickets.
Good Job Texas!
That's the way I see it.