January 16, 2007
Red light cameras come to Bexar County

Balcones Heights, which is a small incorporated city within San Antonio, is the latest place to install red light cameras.

Engineers started installing camera-ready traffic signals in Balcones Heights on Thursday.

The devices include a camera designed to capture the license plates of drivers who run red lights. Crews in Balcones Heights will spend the next two weeks installing the red light cameras.

Balcones Heights is the first city in Bexar County to install red light cameras.

There's video here. More details are at The Walker Report:

The City of Balcones Heights will be the first city in Bexar County to install the controversial red light cameras. Construction begins Thursday, January 11th at the corner of Hillcrest and Babcock.

Three other red light cameras will be installed on Fredericksburg Road to include: the intersections at Hillcrest & Fredericksburg Road, Crossroads Boulevard at Fredericksburg Road & Balcones Heights Boulevard & Fredericksburg Road.

Balcones Heights is the smallest suburb in Bexar County. A city of 3-thousand residents to include 250 homes & 17 apartment complexes, the suburb is 8/10ths of a square mile extending from Crossroads Mall down Fredericksburg Road to Balcones Heights Boulevard.

Seventy percent of the residents are Hispanic.

The four red light cameras will take approximately 25 days to install and put into working order. The City Council in a 4-1 approved the installation in September.

According to the agreement with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) who will oversee the project, there will be a thirty day grace period from the time the red light cameras are functional where violators will only be issued warning tickets. At the end of the grace period, citations will be issued and fines levied.

A Red Light Camera violation will cost the violator $148 per citation.
Consequences for failure to pay the ticket will include an unfavorable mark against the violators credit report, and collection agencies will be notified and other possible legal action will be taken. The violations are a civil matter and the citation does not affect insurance rates or suspension of driver's license.

The author is a Balcones Heights City Council member and apparently a skeptic of the cameras. Here's a map of the area where you can see all four of the intersections in question. My memory's a little fuzzy at this point, but I don't recall driving down that stretch of Fredericksburg while I was at Trinity. When I was doing summer work at USAA, my coworkers and I would go to Lai Wah's on Fredericksburg at Callahan for the best cheap lunch in town, though. I think that's as close as I'd have gotten. For what it's worth.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 16, 2007 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles


Thursday, January 27, 2005

All Virginia red light camera studies show increased injury accidents

More bad news for friends of Big Brother -- their precious red light cameras that were supposed to generate so much revenue also turn out to generate more accidents. Via Instapundit, quoting TheNewswpaper.com

A brand new, exhaustive study of all seven Virginia red light camera programs shows an overall increase in injury accidents has occured where the devices are installed. The study was performed by The Virginia Transportation Research Council at the request of the state transportation secretary.


Grits posted here about potential privacy concerns with the proliferation of cameras combined with Texas DPS' proposed database of biometric "facial recognition" data.

Thank you Grits for Breakfast without whom I would not have known about the research indicating RED LIGHT CAMERAS INCREASED ACCIDENTS for people stopping so suddenly that they are hit from behind--all to avoid tickets--when completely ignored was the simple, free remedy to add ONE SECOND to the yellow light time for fewer accidents.

This colors everything about this project. And, in Hispanic neighborhoods...let me guess.

Imagine if you will the following which could affect many things beyond a grabbing of a revenue stream for buddies of the powerful:

Say during election time...

And to give away the ending up front, the person is completely innocent of any wrong doing. Look what he had to go through and the time and money involved...


True Crime: I Was Caught in the Bush Terrorist Dragnet
by Mr Populist
Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 02:35:07 PM CST

The recently implemented, online Justice Department crime database is shared with state departments of motor vehicles by executive order from the Bush Justice Department. If a citizen has outstanding warrant for anything as trivial as a parking ticket, the state departments of motor vehicles are required to deny a driver's license renewal to anyone with an outstanding warrant, regardless of the crime.

My own Kafkaesque experience of renewing my driver's license got me caught in the web of the Bush administration dragnet of judicial databases for outstanding warrants. The purpose of the executive order is to protect our borders from terrorism. I have no idea of how many other unsuspecting citizens have been involved in similar incidents at their state DMVs. I have the feeling the Justice Department data mining operation is much broader than unwarranted wiretapping of suspected terrorists.

I went to renew my driver's license on November 27th 2006, and just yesterday, on January 4th 2007, was I able to get my license renewed.

An outstanding warrant from 1984 in Massachusetts popped up the federal crime database, at the Missouri DMV and I was refused a driver's license. What's relevant is I've never been arrested for a crime in Massachusetts and when I gave that information Missouri DMV clerk, she looked look at me as if to say, "Yeah right, you and 1001 other criminal deadbeats who jumped bail."

She refused to renew my license. So did her supervisor. They wouldn't give me any details on the crime I had allegedly committed Crime doesn't pay, especially when you've never committed it.

Finally, a month and half later I was allowed to renew my driver's license but only AFTER the refusal to renew my driving license, triggered a daisy chain of events happened, between November 27, 2006 and January 4 2007:

* After spending 40 hours of being put on hold by various electronic answering services in nearly every Boston area municipal court. I simply wanted to know what the charges were that I allegedly failed to appear in court to settle. All of those phone calls were long distance and are going to cost me a small fortune..

* After lobbying two state representatives, one in Missouri and one in Massachusetts

* After turning myself in, at my local municipal police station and demanding they arrest me on an outstanding warrant in Massachusetts.

* After spending an entire afternoon in a holding cell of that same municipal police station, while the cops checked 3 different national databases for warrants in my name and came up empty handed. When I kept insisting there was a 1984 warrant out for my arrest, the local cops looked at me like I was insane, and told me to go home because they couldn't arrest me.

* After spending two weeks on needles and pins wondering what the warrant was all about and if I'd ever get a driving license again. I'd talked to 40 people in two dozen government agencies and nobody would reveal the nature of the criminal charges against me.

* After nearly over an hour on the telephone with the Cambridge court clerk who my attorney had to threaten to take to court to get her to check the dead warrants files in the basement morgue of the Cambridge court house for my 22 year old bench warrant.

* After that same court clerk took a week to find an outstanding warrant with my name on it for the crime of Posting an Illegal Handbill in Central Square in Cambridge in 1984.

* After sending a registered letter the Chief Clerk of the Cambridge Court informing him that the warrant was a mistake.

* After getting a letter back from the Chief Clerk of the Cambridge acknowledging the 1984 warrant for posting illegal handbills was a clerical error that happened from mistakenly entering my name on a warrant. I was a witness for the defense on a handbill case in 1984 in Cambridge, not the defendant!

* After driving for 40 days with an expired driver's license, and risking arrest by my local municipal police for actually committing a real crime.

After that, and only after all of that crap and a few hundred dollars later, I could now renew my Missouri driver's license, but only after being assessed a $25 late fee added to the cost of the renewal of my driving license. The late fee was one last kiss-off slap in the face, from the bureaucracy that was the cause of the problem in the first place.


Kafkaesque those Red Light Cameras may be.


Posted by: Prove Our Democracy with Paper Ballots on January 16, 2007 2:15 PM

Lets get rid of red light cameras once and for all. I explained why in my email to Kuffner yeaterday. Basicly its because 85% of all red light runners do so because of an honest mistake. The Virginia study proves my point. As I said in my email, I have a better soultion.

Posted by: Helwig Van Der Grinten on January 17, 2007 7:06 PM

Helwig - I'm working on a post based on your email. Thanks for sending it.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on January 17, 2007 8:24 PM