Monday, July 16, 2012

Turner Schools SOD on Red Light Cameras

Thank heaven Jim Turner of ConchoInfo schooled me on red light cameras.  His e-mail stated:

Might want to look at what I have up on ConchoInfo.

This died soon after Hogg proposed it. I have a feeling he had been
approached by a camera company. There is no money there. No real
revenue. In 2007 the legislature changed the rules of the game. They
basically said that if the cameras are really for safety then all the
revenue generated will be spent on traffic safety related expenses. Half
goes to trauma centers, the other half to intersection improvements,
education, and traffic safety programs. Only those red light cameras
install before the bill passed were grandfathered on the use of
revenues. Lubbock killed their program shortly after the bill was

I'm also very familiar with the cameras you see at intersections. Like I
said in my post, they are there to tell when a vehicle is in the
intersection, etc.. I was working for TXDOT in 1995 when they installed
the first ones here. I did their radio maintenance and helped the signal
department with the then new technology. There were concerns about the cameras and their use even then. One nice thing about them when used for traffic light control: they look at such a broad area to detect vehicles that you can't tell the license number on the cameras. I've seen the outputs. They are mounted high to get a good area and are looking at about a third of a football field to detect vehicles. State and federal
laws to limit them to only functioning as a fancy motion detector and
they have no recording capability built in. Red light cameras need to be
much lower to get a good picture of the license plate (and hopefully
picture of driver). There are also huge problems with false positives on
right turn on red. Greg Mauz in Christoval has been fighting this nation
wide for years.

We do need to watch these systems carefully. Once the cameras are in
place adding extra equipment in the controller cabinet that does
recording in the name of "public safety" or "Crime control" or even
"Anti-terrorism" is easy. The laws would have to be changed but that's
never slowed down federal or state governments before. Can't be changed locally but no problem in Austin or DC. Just do it "for the children."
I didn't realize the children needed $100,000 in revenue for the coming budget year.

1 comment:

Jim Turner said...

Anytime any government agency needs an extra $100k or so it's always "for the children."