Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Red Light Cameras #2

There has been a move afoot to solicit signatures to remove red light cameras from our city.  It seems that Ms. Kelly Canon, of the Arlington Tea Party, has accumulated the requisite number of signatures to put this issue on the ballot.  If this is what the voters of Arlington want then I have no problem with it.  However, if you would allow a closer look at the issue, you might want your signature back. 

Red light cameras were established in our city in 2007 because of a survey that was accomplished by our police department in 2005.  The second highest priority on that survey, from the citizens, was to reduce the number of red light violations.  People were running red lights on a very frequent basis.  An 18 month study was accomplished and it was done to establish a base line of statistics.  The statistics were utilized in an effort to identify where to put the cameras so that they would have the most impact on solving red light violations.  The attributes of red light cameras are as follows:

  1.  Accidents at these 19 intersections are down 75%.  This may not mean much to you, unless you are one of the remaining 25% caught in an accident.  The City Charter tasks me with keeping the citizens of Arlington safe.  According to this statistic alone, if I were to take a position in opposition of red light cameras, I would be in violation of my sworn duties.
  2. Red light cameras are used to record accidents at these intersections.  It is a reliable way for the insurance companies to see who was at fault.  If you were in an accident and didn’t have someone to corroborate your story, a record of the accident would be very helpful.
  3. The red light cameras only capture those individuals that run red lights.  I have been caught twice for not stopping while turning right.  I witnessed the infraction on video and agreed.  So I paid the fine.  I paid because I broke the law, and I was compelled to do the right thing.  Ms. Canon will say that you don’t have to pay the fine so we shouldn’t have the cameras.  By her reasoning then we should stop our police department from giving warnings, you don’t have to pay them either, even though you broke the law.
  4. Lastly, the monies collected are sent to our police department.  The cameras generate about $2.1 million in revenue each year for Arlington. The money covers administrative expenses associated with operating the cameras; the salaries of 9 police officers who form the police department’s DUI unit, 14 patrol officers and 6 officers that administer the program.  So the city covers the salaries of 29 officers in total without raising your taxes.  A very innovative way to improve the safety of our citizens.

So the next time you are asked to sign a petition, try and take a good look at what this person is saying and what their motivation is behind their effort.    


  1. Please reference the study that shows that accidents are down overall 75%. That number seams way out of line with what other studies have found. A quick google search shows that a composite study was done last year and shows that right-angle collisions are reduced by about 10 percent, rear-end collisions increase significantly by about 40 percent, and the overall effect on all types of crashes is an increase by about 15 percent. Another search shows that there are many other groups and studies that have found red light cameras do not reduce accidents.
    It seems like the only ones in favor of cameras are politicians and the companies that make the cameras.

  2. The report that I reference was a staff report compiled over the last 5 years. It was submitted to us in our packets concerning red light cameras. It used the 18 month statistics that were compiled from 2005-2007 and bounced them off the accident records compiled since that time. If requested I'm certain that staff could supply you with a copy of that report or I can publish the numbers on this medium.

  3. In the report supporting red light cameras, was an alternate method surveyed where the yellow light period was made longer? If yes, how do results at those intersections compare with results at camera equipped intersections?

  4. No there has not been a study done lengthening the duration of the yellow light. The yellow lights at all the intersections with red light cameras are set at a standard 3.2 sec. Other cities have changed the yellow light times and it was met with residents stating that the city was trying to trick them to increase revenue.

    I just got a report last week that stated, since the cameras were removed from Houston, accidents were up 117% and that fatal crashes at these intersections are up 30%. Houston has seen that the red light cameras made a difference in the safety of their city. I hope Arlington is smarter.


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