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Relating to prohibiting the use of photographic traffic signal
The fiscal implications of the bill would result in indeterminate but significant revenue loss to the State as well as local jurisdictions.
HB 1631 would prohibit red light cameras or any other photographic traffic signal enforcement systems from being implemented or operated by a local authority. The bill would also prohibit a local authority from issuing a civil or criminal charge or citation for an offense or violation based on a recorded image produced by a photographic traffic signal enforcement system.
A local government would be allowed to continue to operate its system until the expiration of the contract as that contract existed May 7, 2019.
The bill would prohibit TxDOT and county assessor-collectors from refusing to register a vehicle solely on the basis of an outstanding payment on a civil penalty imposed for a red light camera violation.
Texas Action enthusiastically supports HB 1631 for promoting the principles of individual liberty and limited government. Evidence that red-light traffic cameras make the roads safer is dubious at best. In fact, it many cases it makes intersections more dangerous, as it causes drivers to decide to make an abrupt stop when a traffic light turns to yellow to avoid getting photographed by one of these cameras, ultimately causing rear-end collisions.
Even more troubling is the fact that some studies indicate that some municipalities use red light cameras for revenue generation under the guise of public safety. Some municipalities have been caught shortening period of the yellow light at intersections with red light cameras relative to the period of time allocated for yellow lights at other intersections not enforced by camera. The clear conclusion of such behavior is that in those cases the purpose of the cameras was never to enhance public safety but to generate more revenue by causing people to run more red lights. This tactic is reprehensible and obviously makes those intersections less safe than they would otherwise be with the yellow light set to the same interval as normal intersections.
We do not accuse any Texas municipalities of engaging in this behavior, but note that it is a problem elsewhere and there is no reason to believe Texas municipalities may not fall prey to the same temptation. The purpose of government is not to generate revenue by tricking motorists into running more red lights. The temptation to do so should not even be on the table.
We support this legislation for its commitment to limiting government's overregulation and enforcement of intersections for a purpose weighted more on revenue generation, not commuter safety.