FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 12/21/2004
REP. ELKINS FILES BILL THAT WOULD BAN RED LIGHT CAMERAS
(AUSTIN, TX) -- Representative Gary Elkins today filed legislation that would prevent Texas cities from using cameras at intersections to ticket drivers who run red lights.
HB 259 would repeal an amendment to the Transportation Code passed in the 78th legislative session that allowed cities to begin using "red light cameras."
"The legislation I filed today would remove the language in the Transportation Code that is allowing the city of Houston and other municipalities around Texas to move forward with plans to install red light cameras," Elkins said. "Red light cameras place an undue burden on Texas drivers in the name of generating city revenue, and I don't believe folks in Texas want to travel down that road."
Rep. Elkins said the temptation for cities to rely on red light cameras to generate revenue is too great.
"In cities where red light cameras have been allowed there has been a manipulation of traffic signals to increase tickets by reducing the duration of yellow lights," Elkins said. "It really comes down to money."
Rep. Elkins also said citizens should not be asked to compromise their safety in the name of generating revenue for city governments.
"Cameras can't made judgment calls," Elkins said. "They can't account for a driver trying to avoid an accident or for wet pavement. In other states there have been cases where vehicles involved in funeral processions where all mailed tickets even though police officers escorted the cars through red lights."
Because running a red light is a criminal offense, cities were unable to use red light cameras because criminal offense tickets must be personally served to the offender.
However, an amendment to the Transportation Code last session allowed cities to consider red light tickets a civil offense, an option that allows municipalities to mail the ticket. This change opened the door for cities to use red light cameras, which automatically send tickets in the mail to the vehicle's owner. HB 259 would repeal the language that allows red light tickets to be considered a civil offense.
Rep. Gary Elkins has been representing part of Harris County including Jersey Village since 1995. He is vice chairman of the House Business and Industry committee and also serves on the State Affairs and House Administration committees.
Contact: Debra Clonts