Red Light Cameras
Cameras at red lights fuel pedal-to-metal debate (Houston Chronicle)
Some in the insurance industry want the city to slow down on a proposal to nab red light violators with automatic cameras, saying the plan could increase car insurance rates and reduce safety. But other industry officials say the city should proceed with full speed ahead, claiming Houston’s proposed ordinance would increase safety on the roads.
The primary concern stems from the city’s plan to treat red light violations recorded with a camera like parking citations. Under a proposed ordinance that the City Council would consider Wednesday, offenders would simply be ordered to pay a civil fine and not be assigned points on their driving records Ã¢€” no matter how many times they run red lights. “We’re questioning the wisdom here,” said Mark Hannah, spokesman for the Austin-based Insurance Council of Texas, a nonprofit group that represents the state’s insurance industry. “If a person runs six traffic lights in Houston, and all he is doing is paying fines, wouldn’t people be better off if the insurance companies knew about this guy and his insurance rates reflected his driving?” Hannah said. “It’s just a matter of time before someone gets killed.”
This, of course, presumes that the primary rationale for the cameras is the public’s safety. This is not the case. As Matt Labash explained, these cameras are motivated almost entirely by the desire to generate easy revenue.
The reason there are no points assigned to the license is that, in most states, the law requires that there be a witness to traffic offenses in order to obtain a criminal conviction. A camera is not a witness. Indeed, all the camera does is snap a picture of the vehicle, the intersection, and the traffic signal; it can not also show the face of the driver. By mailing out tickets with a no-hassle policy, the municipality gets around this provision of the law and gets most people to simply send their money in.
See also Traffic Light Cameras