Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Red Light Cameras

Yesterday afternoon at the work session there was a discussion concerning the operation of Red Light Cameras in our city.  The subject was brought up by Robert Rivera.  He continues to take positions that are controversial because he is running for Mayor in the May election, if Mayor Cluck doesn’t run.  All indications are that Mayor Cluck will run again.  So we discussed the liabilities and attributes that Red Light Cameras bring to our city.

All Red Light Cameras installed on or after January 1, 2008 required pre-camera data be captured for the eighteen months prior to installation,.  Of the active red light cameras online, 14 red light cameras were installed after January 1, 2008. The variances between the pre-camera data and 2013 current data is significant.  2013 Red Light related camera crashes, when compared to pre-camera crashes, are down 75% (106 to 27). Subsequently, right-angle crashes are down 58% (50 to 21) and rear-end crashes (56 to 6) are down 89%.  Therefore, data shows the safety of our citizens has been improved by the installation of these cameras.

I have received emails that state that the city has tampered with the duration of the yellow light in an effort to increase the number of violations.  This is not true.  Every yellow light in this city has been set at 3.2 seconds as a constant.   Violators state that tickets are being issued by a company in Cincinnati.  This isn’t true.  Each violation is reviewed by an Arlington Police Officer and he issues the ticket for the violation. Some people are concerned about the revenue that is collected.  The revenue from these cameras goes to the camera company, the State of Texas, and also to the City of Arlington.  The money that goes to the city is used to fund 28 additional officer positions on our police force. 

If we were to get rid of the cameras that are currently in place, and maintain the same level of surveillance, it would cost a million dollars.  That would be calculated by 23 intersections and three daily shifts would equal 69 officers, plus the 28 officers that were previously mentioned wouldn’t be employed, due to lack of revenue.  The City would have to outfit them with cruisers and place them at each intersection.   Then violators would get a ticket for running a red light that would cost them $250 instead of $75.  The difference is that if an officer issues a ticket in the field that is a criminal offense, while the camera issued ticket is a civil offense.

Now I personally don’t like the Red Light Cameras, partly because I have gotten two tickets for rolling right turns.  But I saw the video, and I broke the law.  Therefore, I paid the ticket, as I should.  But when you look at the safety statistics, accidents are down.  The prime directive of Government is to keep their citizens safe, therefore, I have to vote to keep the cameras in place for that reason.


  1. I watched this and noticed that Robert Rivera made a statement about the Red Light Camera Tickets not being enforceable. I have also heard people complain that they have to pay off the ticket in order to get their vehicle registered. I have to wonder what is true. If it wasn't enforceable I'm sure there would be a great many people not paying.

  2. The truth of the matter is that the City of Arlington approached the County Tax Assessor to hold registrations if Red Light Camera tickets weren't paid. The Court of County Commissioners told the Assessor not to do this. Therefore, the Assessor will not withhold car registrations.

    The fact that your registration will not be withheld is of little consequence. Essentially, if an officer witnessed you running a red light it would cost you upwards of $250 and it would go on your driving record, because it would be a criminal offense. If the Red Light Cameras catch you doing the same thing, it is a civil offense and carries a fine of $75 and it dosen't go on your record.

    The fact is the red light was still run and a violation of the law was witnessed. Do the right thing and pay the fine.

  3. What would be the mechanism to enforce payment?

  4. Currently it would be the fact that you would have broken the law and your conscience, would be the difference between your sense of right and wrong. Let that be your guide. Would you pay or not? It is the difference between being a law biding citizen or not being one. There is a sense that criminals need to go to jail to pay their debt to society for their transgressions. You have to make that mental determination.

  5. If indeed yellow lights are all set to the same duration throughout the entire city, this is a problem. Streets with higher speed limits should have LONGER yellow lights to allow for greater stopping distance. Scientific fact.

    Yellow lights should be set at a MINIMUM of 3.2 seconds, at intersections with a low speed limit threshold. The higher the speed, the longer the light should be timed. If safety is the main priority, this practice would be standard MO. If revenue generation is the main priority, which I suspect is really the case, then using a 'constant' duration at ALL intersections is a purposeful disservice to drivers and the public at large.

    I for one am glad that the County Assessor is operating that office WITHIN the parameters constitutionally allowed, and not bowing to pressure from hungry bureaucrats.

    1. This is exactly the problem that we have in providing fair government. If we change the duration of the light then the government is trying to entrap you, by varying the duration of the light. If we keep the duration constant then government is doing you a "disservice."

      In short you can assume what the motivation for red light cameras are all you want. I can simply point to the fact that accidents are down at these intersections by significant numbers. That alone should convince the average citizen that they are of benefit to the community. As an aside, the Tax Assessor takes his marching orders from the Board of Commissioners. I personally find their decision to not act as other counties have, in support of the safety of our citizens, to be disgraceful.

  6. So your reasoning is that if the red light cameras reduced the number of accidents that our citizens suffered, which they do, your are against them. The fact is that you want to be able to run red lights without paying the fine for breaking the law. You should be ashamed of yourself for taking a position against safety and law enforcement.

    With your lack of commitment to society I guess shoplifting is ok also as long as you don't get caught.

  7. Section 4D.26 Yellow Change and Red Clearance Intervals

    03 The duration of the yellow change interval shall be determined using engineering practices.

    14 A yellow change interval should have a minimum duration of 3 seconds and a maximum duration of 6 seconds. The longer intervals should be reserved for use on approaches with higher speeds.

  8. Yes but, as I stated in the town hall meeting. The lights in Arlington are all set at 3.2 seconds according the Keith Melton, Director of Public Works. Now the reason for this is that if the city changes the duration all over town, then citizens will say that we are trying to trick you into a red light ticket. That is why they are set at a constant 3.2 sec.

  9. Seems like only law abiding citizens will bother to pay the tickets but then it has always been that way. Even in the counties where registration is withheld. It's just like the unpaid toll fees, lots of threats but little to no action and no meaningful action. All we end up with is more unregistered, uninspected and uninsured vehicles with little to no enforcement for any of that.


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