Texas Senate Again Votes to Outlaw Red Light Cameras

For the third straight session, the Texas Senate has voted to outlaw those 'red light cameras,' News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Similar bills have passed the Senate in the two previous sessions, only to die in the House.

This year, as an added protection, the Senate approved a companion bill which forbids county clerks from denying registration renewals to any vehicle which has an outstanding red light camera ticket.

Since red light camera tickets are not 'criminal violations,' the only way the 'fines'that are issued can be collected,  so the bill essentially makes red light cameras worthless.

Citizens groups have campaigned heavily against red light cameras ever since the concept of 'robotic enforcement' of traffic laws was allowed in Texas ten years ago.

They say since a camera on the red light takes a picture of  the car's license plate and then mails a ticket to the car's owner, that violates the due process rights of the owner, who may or may not have been  the driver at the time.  It also does not allow the person who gets the ticket to 'confront the accuser.'

Studies have also shown that, far from making roads safer, red light cameras actually make intersections more dangerous, because a driver gets halfway through the intersection, sees the red light camera, and then throws on the brakes, only to be rear ended by the car behind.

Supporters say red light cameras are simply another tool to fight crime, like radar guns or police radios. 

They point out that it is a waste of money and manpower to have an officer sitting at a red light for an entire shift, but running red lights is still dangerous and illegal, and the cameras discourage an illegal practice.The measures again go to the Texas House, where their future if very much in doubt.

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