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Relating to prohibiting the use of photographic traffic signal
Estimated Two-year Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for SB 653, Committee Report 1st House, Substituted: an impact of $0 through the biennium ending August 31, 2021. However, there would be an estimated revenue loss of ($28,284,000) to Trauma Facility and EMD Account 5111 in the 2020-21 biennium if the bill were passed with immediate effect or a loss of ($21,705,000) in the 2020-21 biennium if the bill would be effective September 1, 2019.
The Department of Transportation is required to implement a provision of this bill only if the
legislature appropriates money specifically for that purpose. If the legislature does not appropriate
money specifically for that purpose, the department may, but is not required to, implement a
provision of this bill using other appropriations available for that purpose.
SB 653 would outlaw 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 any civil or criminal charges or citations brought from evidence from a photographic traffic signal enforcement system.
Texas Action supports SB 653 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, in many cases it makes intersections more dangerous, as it causes drivers to decide to make an abrupt stop when a traffic light turns 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 the 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.
Additionally, there are constitutional concerns related to such enforcement. Red light camera enforcement leads to deprivation of property in the form of a civil penalty for was has been generally determined by the legislature to be criminal conduct. This raises due process concerns by creating an irrebuttable presumption that the registered owner of the car committed the violation.
Therefore, we support this bill for promoting public safety and strengthening due process protections.