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The anti-red light camera referendum drive begins

As we know, the anti-red light camera forces intend to collect enough petition signatures to put a charter referendum on the ballot this November. On Friday, they got started.

Because red-light camera citations remain outside the realm of tickets that can be contested with assistance from a lawyer, many who specialize in that work have lined up behind the anti-red-light camera effort.

The push to defend the cameras also has been joined by local furniture store magnate Jim McIngvale, signaling that the political fight over the devices could grow heated by the time it is expected to culminate in a November charter amendment vote.

Paul Kubosh, a lawyer who sent petition forms to more than 20,000 former clients Friday and is bankrolling the effort to seek voter rejection of the cameras, said the devices have increased accidents and do not free up police resources.

“Red-light cameras are dangerous,” he said. “What are they really for? There’s only one thing, and that’s money.”

For all his bleating about red light cameras being about money, I don’t think it had occurred to me before I read that first paragraph quoted above that Paul Kubosh also has a financial stake in this. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but let’s be clear about it.

This story doesn’t mention it, but the Chron story cited in that previous post said that 20,000 signatures were needed by July 1, and that Kubosh claimed to have “at least 50,000 registered voters in my client base”. Assuming they have the resources to get the forms in front of enough people, I don’t think they’ll have any trouble getting the signatures they need.

I’ve mentioned before that neither Paul nor Michael Kubosh is resident of the city of Houston, and thus are not eligible to vote in this referendum they want to force. Turns out that the same is true of camera defender Jim McIngvale. Am I the only person who’s annoyed by this?

There was a lot of discussion in my previous post about the successful effort last year in College Station to pass an anti-camera referendum. There were charges and counter-charges made by the opposing sides, and a post-election lawsuit that was filed over the wording of the referendum; according to Ballotpedia, the judge ultimately ruled that the wording of the referendum was unclear, but the city had already terminated its contract with camera company American Traffic Solutions, so the effect was nil. The Battalion link above mentioned a poll that showed a very similar level of support for the cameras among “likely” voters – 64% in College Station, 65% in Houston. I don’t know how they did their likely voter screen for that poll, but the average turnout for municipal elections in College Station is about eight percent. The 2009 referendum drew twice that amount; I’d guess the poll didn’t account for that possibility. I expect this year to be a higher turnout year than usual, but we’re not going to see anything like that. This referendum will surely be lower profile, relatively speaking, than the one in College Station, which had essentially nothing competing with it for voters’ attention. Whether either of these factors benefits the pro- or anti-camera side, I couldn’t say. We ought to be in for an interesting campaign.

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41 Comments

  1. br allen says:

    I still don’t get this argument that the Chronicle made. Why can’t a lawyer help with your red light camera ticket? I have read about several instances where attorneys helped get these tickets dismissed and even appeared with them at their hearing. Don’t most traffic ticket attorneys deal mainly with speeding, dui, accidents etc? How many red light violation tickets did they represent before? According to an article I read yesterday Houston is out giving a record number of speeding tickets so even if you can make the argument that the cameras cut into their business (which doesn’t make sense) then it would appear they can keep their hands busy with the increase in speeding tickets as cops stop focusing on red light runners and start focusing on speeders. If anything, you have to think that the total number of tickets for all violations in Houston would have to go up after cameras go in, thousands more red light camera tickets, and thousands more tickets for other violations. I really don’t believe that a traffic attorney is going to have a hard time finding work in Houston do you? I think the chronicle needs to explore that argument and flesh it out a bit more if they are going to float that balloon out there.

  2. Dr jones says:

    Exactly. The lawyers are so afraid of losing their inflated income that they want you to think it’s actually about the cameras. Don’t break the law and the cameras will never hurt you….although they might save you and your families lives

  3. br allen says:

    OK, once again, someone please explain to me exactly how the cameras affect their income? Some people seem to insinuate that but no one has connected the dots. We know for a fact that the ones fighting them are funded and set up by the camera companies, so their motive is clear and easy to understand, but I can’t figure out exactly how the cameras cut into the lawyer’s “inflated income” enough for them to spend as much money as they have to fight the cameras. One of the lawyers is a civil liberties lawyer how do they cut into his income? If someone can spell that out I will listen, but so far no one has so I have to think that it is just posturing. “Don’t break the law and the cameras will never hurt you”? That oversimplification is just flat wrong, innocent people get ticketed by the cameras every day. We are all hurt when millions of local dollars get sent to Arizona instead of being spent here in a down economy.

  4. Paul Kubosh says:

    “many lawyers are lined up”? I only know of one traffic attorney.

  5. Steve Smith says:

    The studies show a decrease in major collisions in the intersections where they cameras are installed. I will side with safety and the people that abide by the law

  6. Greg says:

    I am glad that Kuffner is pointing out that the lawyers have a financial interest in this. Don’t break the law and the cameras should not impact you.

  7. br allen says:

    The law and safety are on the side of those that want the cameras out, not those trying to save them. HPD just admitted that there have been no reduction in accidents at camera intersections. Cameras ticket innocent people every day and the money taken out of our local economy that gets sent to the red light camera people impacts us all.

    So there is ONE ticket lawyer behind the petition? I have no problem with finding out if they have a financial interest in the outcome, we should know that, but the question is how much of an interest is it and is that enough to credibly claim they are just motivated by their fnancial interests? I would be surprised if it is anywhere near what the camera companies have financially invested. I think the camera companies will loose far more if the cameras get voted out than the lawyers will loose if they stay.

  8. Greg says:

    HPD and the HPD union recently endorsed the red light cameras. At the minimum the cameras allow police offers to focus on other criminals.

  9. br allen says:

    See this is the argument I don’t get, when they want to put in the cameras they tell us how the streets run red with the blood of people killed by red light runners, they trot out pictures of wrecks, people that have lost loved ones due to red light running national statistics about how many people die from red light running etc and tell us how something must be done about it because it is such a serious problem. Then, when someone says that a problem that deadly, that serious should warrant the attention of a real live cop on the scene they tell us, “oh you really don’t want a cop on every corner handing out tickets do you?” “we need to free the cops up to respond to MORE IMPORTANT CALLS”!!!! so after the cameras get in the door all of the sudden red light running isn’t important enough to make it criminal offense by having a cop write the ticket! Any thinking person should question the logic of this argument.

  10. Steve Smith says:

    Don’t break the law, don’t get a ticket. It seems so easy. I don’t run red lights so I want to bet on the side that there is a chance they do make intersections safer. I will stick with the Facts: A newly released study of collision data at the 50 City of Houston intersections that are monitored by intersection safety cameras found that the camera program has helped to reduce total collisions by 11 percent.

    Even more important is that they found that cameras helped reduce the deadliest side-impact or “t-bone” collisions by 16 percent.

  11. br allen says:

    I don’t run red lights, never been ticketed by a camera for running a red light or a cop either for that matter. My desire is that they do something to get the red light runners off the streets instead of a ticket no worse than a parking ticket. Only cops can do that, and with a camera ticket that doesn’t even show up on their driving record how can a camera take a red light runner of the streets? They can’t.

    You want to stick with the facts? Fine with me, Here’s one from Friday;

    “Houston police admit the current data does not support a reduction in accidents at red light camera intersections”

    http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=7402728

    Every month hundreds, maybe even thousands of Houstonians that didn’t break the law get a ticket. People like the 1700 people in League city that had their fines dismissed or refunded because the city had an illegally short yellow light, or people that weren’t even driving the vehicle at the time, or people that don’t own that vehicle anymore, or people that have a completely different vehicle than what is shown in the violation because the camera company “guessed” at an unclear picture of a license plate. But since the law says you are guilty until you prove you are innocent they either have to go through the time and expense to prove they didn’t break the law, or more often than not (as designed) they just send in the $75 so they don’t have to go through the trouble of fighting it. They depend on safe drivers that didn’t do anything wrong to pay their fines because the worst red light runners probably won’t.

  12. Steve Smith says:

    In El Paso after 5 years of having safety cameras, “Police said the cameras have dropped serious injury crashes by 34 percent with a 20 percent drop in red light violations.
    “The program is showing a lot of success and public safety,” said Gardner.”

  13. br allen says:

    For every city that says they work there are 2 or more that say they don’t, what the most fairminded person would think is that the camera performance isn’t uniform which means the actual effect of the cameras on safety is questionable.

    “The total number of accidents in Corpus Christi increased 14 percent, from 310 incidents to 353, at nine locations where automated ticketing machines were stationed. Contrary to the claim that red light cameras reduce the severity of collisions, the number of accidents involving injuries increased 28 percent from 140 to 179. Rear end collisions also increased by nearly a third from 160 to 208.”

    Red Light Camera Crashes Up in Lubbock…..Despite a 2.7 percent reduction in intersection crashes citywide, the total number of collisions increased at each of the eleven intersections with a red light camera…..The totals reflected a 52 percent increase in collisions with rear end crashes up by 60 percent.

  14. Steve Smith says:

    Can you provide the source for this statistic: “For every city that says they work there are 2 or more that say they don’t”

  15. Steve Smith says:

    From the associated press “The city’s Public Works Department reporte that, in the two years since New Orleans began issuing tickets for red-light camera violations, red-light running and speeding have dropped by more than 90 percent at monitored intersections.”

  16. Steve Smith says:

    The article goes on to further say that “Public Works Director Robert Mendoza tells The Times-Picayune reports that the figures are consistent with national statistics that show the number of violations at camera-monitored intersections continues to fall the longer a camera has been active.”

  17. Greg says:

    My girlfriend was in a wreck where the person ran a red light, t-boned the car, and then said the light was not red. I wish we had the cameras as proof as their was no eye witnesses.

  18. Steve Smith says:

    Nationally, red light running kills about 750 people each year and injures 260,000, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Florida, “Legislative analysts found that cameras reduce red light violations by at least 40 percent and crashes that result in injuries by at least 25 percent”

  19. br allen says:

    This can go on all day, again, we can clearly see that the cameras don’t uniformly affect accidents when they are installed. Point is, if cameras really work why don’t they work uniformly? If the cameras are responsible for the reductions you claim are they also responsible for the increases reported.

    Houston from the undoctored Rice university study;
    •Monroe at Gulf Freeway East Service Road: a 913% increase
    •Hollister at Northwest Freeway: a 747% increase
    •FM1960 West at Tomball Parkway: a 307% increase
    •Richmond at Dunvale: a 103% increase
    •South Sam Houston Freeway at Telephone Road: a 164% increase
    •East Freeway North Service Road at Normandy: a 52% increase
    •North Freeway West Service Road at West Rankin Road: a 18% increase

    CHicago; If improved safety is the goal of red-light cameras, then it is a mission largely unaccomplished for the first crop of area suburbs that raced to install the devices after they became legal in 2006, according to state data.

    Accidents rose — in some cases, significantly — at half the 14 suburban intersections outfitted with traffic cameras by the end of 2007, the data show. The number of crashes fell at just five of those intersections after cameras went in, while two showed little change.

    D.C. Red-Light Cameras Fail to Reduce Accidents…..a Washington Post analysis of crash statistics shows that the number of accidents has gone up at intersections with the cameras. The increase is the same or worse than at traffic signals without the devices.
    ……Their conclusion: The cameras do not appear to be making any difference in preventing injuries or collisions.

    Intersections where Spokane, Wash., installed red light cameras in 2008 in the name of safety saw an increase in crashes and injuries in the first year of the controversial program.

    “The rigorous studies clearly show red-light cameras don’t work,” said lead author Barbara Langland-Orban, professor and chair of health policy and management at the USF College of Public Health. “Instead, they increase crashes and injuries as drivers attempt to abruptly stop at camera intersections.”

    •A 2008 University of South Florida report found:
    “Comprehensive studies conclude cameras actually increase crashes and injuries, providing a safety argument not to install them…. public policy should avoid conflicts of interest that enhance revenues for government and private interests at the risk of public safety.”

    •A 2007 Virginia Department of Transportation study found:
    “The cameras were associated with an increase in total crashes… The aggregate EB results suggested that this increase was 29%… The cameras were associated with an increase in the frequency of injury crashes… The aggregate EB results suggested an 18% increase, although the point estimates for individual jurisdictions were substantially higher (59%, 79%, or 89% increases) or lower (6% increase or a 5% decrease).”

    •A 2006 Winnipeg, Canada city audit found:
    “The graph shows an increase of 58% in the number of traffic collisions from 2003 to 2004…. Contrary to long-term expectations, the chart shows an increase in claims at each level of damage with the largest percentage increase appearing at the highest dollar value.”

    •A 2005 Virginia DOT study found:
    “The cameras are correlated with an increase in total crashes of 8% to 17%.”

    •In 2005, The Washington Post found:
    “The analysis shows that the number of crashes at locations with cameras more than doubled, from 365 collisions in 1998 to 755 last year. Injury and fatal crashes climbed 81 percent, from 144 such wrecks to 262. Broadside crashes, also known as right-angle or T-bone collisions, rose 30 percent, from 81 to 106 during that time frame.”

    •A 2004 North Carolina A&T University study found:
    “Our findings are more pessimistic, finding no change in angle accidents and large increases in rear-end crashes and many other types of crashes relative to other intersections.”

    •A 2003 Ontario Ministry of Transportation study found:
    “Compared to the average number of reported collisions occurring in the before period, the average yearly number of reported collisions increased 15.1 per cent in the after period.”

    •A 1995 Australian Road Research Board study found:
    “The results of this study suggest that the installation of the RLC at these sites did not provide any reduction in accidents, rather there has been increases in rear end and adjacent approaches accidents on a before and after basis and also by comparison with the changes in accidents at intersection signals.”

  20. Greg says:

    All old out of date research. If you don’t break the law you don’t get a ticket. So many people spreading lies and rumors so that attorneys don’t lose their income.

  21. Jennifer says:

    I have noticed a red light running reduction in my area and I 100% think it’s because people don’t want a ticket regardless of cost or where the money is sent too

  22. Nate says:

    A newly released study of collision data at the 50 City of Houston intersections that are monitored by intersection safety cameras found that the camera program has helped to reduce total collisions by 11 percent

  23. br allen says:

    LOL! over 20 years of data and no definitive proof the cameras make intersections safer and we can’t trust it because it is “old”. What about HPD coming out 3 DAYS AGO saying they admit there have been no reduction in accidents? Isn’t that new enough? The statement “don’t break the law you don’t get a ticket” is an outright lie. Thousands of people that never broke the law have gotten these tickets in the mail. It’s proven, there is no doubt about it. Since no one else has been able to, please tell me exactly how the lawyers loose money because of the cameras? I seriously want to know, explain it to me. Make a good argument and let’s discuss it, I’ll listen. What about the PR firm hired by the camera companies to spread lies to protect THEIR income? Does that deserve your comment too?

  24. br allen says:

    Sorry Nate, that would appear to be “old out of date research” This was from Friday;

    “Houston police admit the current data does not support a reduction in accidents at red light camera intersections”

    http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=7402728

    It’s interesting, what I have noticed at red light camera intersections are skid marks from people locking up their brakes trying to avoid a ticket, potentially risking loosing control, and people flooring it as soon as the light turns yellow to make sure they get through the intersection increasing their speed potentially making the intersection less safe, especially for pedestrians.

  25. Steve Smith says:

    It seems strange, all these people posting because they support the cameras and all the lives they save and one person, br allen, who must be a lawyer, scared of losing money is opposed. I support the side that says if you don’t break the law you don’t get a ticket and have a chance of saving lives. Its definitely the easy side to support. Side with ambulance chasers that are against the cameras or side with concerned families that are for the cameras….so easy. Don’t break the law, don’t get a ticket, and save some lives.

  26. Greg says:

    I don’t want my family getting hit by a red light runner. Do you? Who supports people that break the law??????? Lawyers do that’s who.

  27. br allen says:

    Funny, your arguments are failing so you have to try to demonize your opposition. No, I am not a lawyer, so nice try. Are you working for the camera companies that are trying to keep their profits rolling in? 26 posts and you still can’t explain to me exactly how these lawyers will loose money because of the cameras but that doesn’t stop you from making that claim. Make your argument, not unexplainable accusations. Who is the side that says if you don’t break the law you don’t get a ticket besides you? That is demonstrably false repeatedly, over and over again. Anyone that says that clearly knows very little about the camera program. Safe drivers that don’t break the law get those tickets every day. No, surprise, surprise I don’t want to get hit by a red light runner, that’s why I want the stiffest penalties against red light runners. Why are the both of you soft on red light runners? You just can’t stand that a safe driver like me and like thousands of other safe drivers oppose the cameras, you can’t explain it can you? People of every walk of life, law enforcement, firefighters, doctors, insurance agents, soccer moms and so on oppose the cameras, why? Because they know they don’t work, they decriminalize red light running and they cause accidents. Maybe you are a dangerous red light runner that doesn’t want red light running to become a criminal offense again?

  28. Greg says:

    Hpd and HPD union came out with their support of the cameras last week. More lies that law enforcement don’t support these.

  29. br allen says:

    So 100% of law enforcement everywhere, without a single exception support the cameras? And you accuse ME of lying? That’s the same kind of logic that says “if you don’t break the law you don’t have anything to worry about”. I personally know 2 league city cops that say it is lazy enforcement, I know another constable that says he was taught that if he was going to give a ticket to someone he had to be able to swear in court that person was the driver, since the cameras ticket the car not the driver he opposes them. Do you want to have a real discussion about the real issues or do you want to just keep throwing out propoganda fed to you by the camera company’s paid spokemen? There are several BIG questions that people should know and talk about that neither you or Steve want to address, why is that?

    If you make the claim the lawyers are doing this to protect their income show us how.

    If someone claims the cameras reduce accidents how do you square that with HPD saying there has been no reduction in accidents.

    How exactly is no penalty whatsover for not paying a red light camera ticket enforcement? Enforcement without a penalty is a request.

    If the city is truly interested in Safety why have they done really nothing to implement the best, most proven, most effective means of reducing violations? The Texas Transportation Institute proved that with simple engineering changes, better signals, longer yellow lights, better markings etc, that accidents and violations can drop as much as 50%. Why did they not do this first but rushed to throw up a less effective, less safe method that just so happens to be a revenue getter.

    If everything the camera companies tell us is true, that people want the cameras then why are they and their supporters so afraid of a vote? What is wrong with the people having a voice in the issue at the ballot box?

    You can keep going down the road with the silly distractions of claiming I am a lawyer or that I love red light runners etc or you can address the serious questions and issues surrounding the program, these are questions we should all be asking, questions we have a right to know.

  30. Steve Smith says:

    A newly released study of collision data at the 50 City of Houston intersections that are monitored by intersection safety cameras found that the camera program has helped to reduce total collisions by 11 percent.

    The same study found that intersection safety cameras found that the cameras helped reduce the deadliest side-impact or “t-bone” collisions by 16 percent.

    The timing of the yellow lights is mandated by the state. So if someone would like that timing changed they would need to take it up with the state level.

  31. br allen says:

    Wow, taken word for word from the PAC website set up and funded by the red light camera companies to interfere with our vote. Why is it you question the motives of the people fighting the cameras when you can’t prove your claim, but you are SILENT on the fact that the camera companies are behind their opposition? Why don’t you believe HPD when they say accidents haven’t gone down? What’s your beef with HPD? What about the issues I asked about? No response? The MINIMUM time is set by the state, there is no state law that says you can’t have the yellow light longer than the minimum as long as it is less than 6 seconds. The city could go out right now and put all those yellow lights at 5-6 seconds and see a 30-40% drop in violations and accidents, all without a cop on every corner and without the abusive, dangerous cameras. Never in a million years would I have thought posters on a progressive blog would be supporting fat cat corporate executives trying to buy a vote in our city. Never would I have thought they would support a program that hits minorities and the poor with fines that are disproportionate to their income.

  32. Steve Smith says:

    I have had a family member get in a wreck that was caused by a red light runner. If the cameras would have been there then we could have proved. Also, I have passed through many of the intersections in Houston that have the red light cameras. Not once have I ever received a ticket from one of the cameras. The reason that I didn’t receive a ticket is because I didn’t break the law.

  33. br allen says:

    I would have rather a cop had intervened with that character in the past to either scare him into driving better or have found a reason for him not to have been on the road at all. I would prefer the dangerous red light runners not be on the streets instead of having a souvenier of my wrecked car or injuries. Unfortunately outsourcing the enforcement to a private corporation and making it to where running a red light isn’t a crime anymore pretty much guarantees that won’t happen anymore. Glad you haven’t gotten a ticket, unfortunately, thousands of innocent, safe drivers like you in our area have.

  34. br allen says:

    Wow! I mean, WOW! Goldman Sachs has flushed millions in their ill gotten gain into ATS and now sits on the board. I mean, no chance that Goldman Sachs would make bad decisions that would effect us is there? I am sure they have learned their lessons right? Even more shocking, the CEO says they are revenue generators!

    As more cities use ATS’ photo radar and red-light cameras, an increasing number are deciding to follow suit — particularly in tight economic times, when they are seen as revenue generators, Tuton said.

    “They all get it now, and they say, ‘If it works there, it can work here,’” he said.

    Read more: ATS secures investment from Goldman Sachs – Phoenix Business Journal:

    http://phoenix.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2008/09/29/story4.html

  35. Jim McGrath says:

    Okay, so now we have BR Allen’s unrealistic formula for traffic safety: cops on every corner. How much are you willing to raise taxes to make that happen, BR? What city services do you cut? How many high-speed chases will ensue that further threaten our neighborhood safety? BR strikes me as well-intentioned but, again, totally unrealistic. We use cameras at every ATM, every toll road in Harris County, so many private facilities to protect us and enforce traffic laws. Cameras are a high tech “force multiplier” as our new HPD Chief and the 5,000-plus members of the Houston Police Officers Union have stated. Last time I checked, they had sworn an oath to protect our community — unlike BR Allen or any of the rest of us. They know public safety. Most reasonable folks will take their word above all else.

  36. br allen says:

    Mr McGrath, good to hear from you, glad you can take time from working for Goldman Sachs and ATS fat cat executives interfering with our local elections long enough to stop by and spread their propoganda for them again. Just curious, how much are your fees for doing that or will we have to wait for Mattress Mack’s financial disclosure report to find out? Are you getting paid for this post or was that part of the package?

    Note the extremes Mr McGrath puts forth, if you want cops to catch criminals instead of the dangerous, ineffective cameras that means you want an unrealistic number of police and want to have them on every corner. Yea, that really sums up my views doesn’t it? How about this, since the cameras are supposed to reduce accidents but HPD just said there is no evidence that the cameras have reduced accidents why don’t we try something proven to reduce accidents? Why don’t we admit their failure and implement TTI engineering recommendations to reduce violations and accidents through engineering? With proven engineering methods we can reduce violations and accidents more than even the claims of the camera keepers. Then we can identify the intersections that would benefit from a police presence and have them patrol those intersections. No cop on every corner a 30-40% reduction in accidents no decriminalizing red light running, no tickets in the mail that probably won’t ever get paid since there is no penalty for not paying and no more thousands of innocent drivers that never broke the law getting ticketed. Sounds pretty good to me. In fact, don’t most camera companies stress that all engineering methods for reducing violations and accidents should be exhauseted before they implement a camera program? Isn’t it true that Houston never explored that option?

    Does an ATM or store camera turn a criminal offense into a civil offense and automatically mail a ticket to someone that might not have even violated the law? If someone robs a bank does the surveilence camera make bank robbing a civil offense instead of a crime and mail them a ticket that the robber will probably ignore? Or maybe if the robber was wearing a jacket he borrowed the jacket’s owner gets the ticket? I know, I know, he never should have lent his jacket out right? Let’s not pretend that the red light cameras are no different than any other surveilence cameras out there, anyone with even a basic knowledge of the program knows that isn’t true. I wish I could say you were well intentioned, the problem is, I just don’t know how much those intentions cost when you sold them.

  37. Jim McGrath says:

    Beam me up, Scotty, I just landed on Planet “BR” Allen in Sector Utopian — a parallel universe where apparently no one is supposed to make any money, which makes how we pay for all those additional cops “BR” wants watching red lights (or any other govt service BR finds appealing) an even stranger mystery. He reminds me of the candlestick maker who just found out Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. We have a better way to police these intersections, folks. A survey a few years ago found out that only six percent of red lights runners were brought to justice the way BR suggests. Six percent. That is apparently BR’s idea of “red light enforcement,” which maybe explains why we are having trouble seeing eye to eye.

    Cameras, meanwhile, protect your due process, your right to appeal, your right to an attorney. The evidence that these cameras collect 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is there for all to see and contest if you want. And it frees up our over-stretched HPD forces to fight other kinds of crime.

    Isn’t this the kind of effective, smaller government most taxpayers want?

  38. br allen says:

    Sorry, didn’t mean to get you all emotional and hyperbolic, must have been pretty close to the mark. I have no problem with honest people making an honest living. Unfortunatley the camera companies don’t do that. They make their living off of false information and emotional scare tacticts similar to what you are pushing in Houston for them.

    Again, if you do the proven method of reducing accidents and violations with engineering methods you won’t need to place cops on every corner. The intersections will be safer without cameras and without the cops. If there are intersections that would benefit from additional enforcement then the police already patroling in those areas can concentrate on intersections they identify as problems. Simple enough? In fact we already can point to examples of this. Loma Linda California saw a reduction of 92% in violations simply by extending the yellow light by 1 second, they dropped their camera program after seeing they got better results with engineering and without putting a cop on every corner and said that the camera company mislead them with their claims. So as much as it is financially rewarding for you and your patrons to perpetuate this as pie in the sky it really isn’t, we can see it working already. Cameras aren’t the only solution or even a good one.

    Another vaporous study. 6% huh? Let’s just assume that is true at face value. What is the % of red light runners that have been brought to justice by cameras? I guess that depends on your definition of “justice”. If, like you, your definition of justice is decriminalizing the offense, mailing a notice asking to please pay, taking away all penalty for not complying with the request to pay, no arrest warrant, no credit report hit, no license ponts or suspension and not even a registration suspension, then I guess you would claim there have been a lot brought to justice. To me, justice for a red light runner would be facing criminal charges, an arrest, suspension of their license or registration and possible jail time actually taking them off the streets. If your definition of justice is more like mine, then the % brought to justice by cameras would be signifigantly less than 6, right around, let’s say, 0.

    This is where it really get’s funny, apparently Scotty beamed you to your own planet. How do cameras protect your due process when you are guilty until you prove you are innocent? How does it protect my due process where if the violation letter (that is not sent registered mail) gets lost but the law is written that failure to respond is an admission of guilt and I forfeit all right of appeal? How do I appeal my red light violation out of municipal court? How do I get a trial by jury like I would if a cop catches me running a red light?

    Again, if red light running is such the deadly serious crime you say it is, why doesn’t it deserve a response like other crimes? Why is it when you want to put in cameras red light running is the most serious traffic problem we face, but when we say if it is that serious let’s put a cop on it, you say, “well, we really don’t want cops bothering with something so mundane, they need to focus on other stuff”. Aren’t there other benefits to cops pulling over red light runners? Can’t they look for illegal drugs or weapons? Can’t they check for expired licenses or arrest warrants or unsafe vehicles? All of these actions take dangerous criminals off the streets. Why isn’t taking dangerous criminals off the streets something the cops should do? I kind of thought that was a big part of their job. How can cameras do any of that? They can’t can they? Fewer traffic stops mean fewer people being taken off the streets because of these “mundane” officer initiated traffic stops. As much as you claim to respect cops I don’t agree that replacing them with cameras truly expresses their worth to us. As much as you think a camera can do everything a cop can do reasonable people will disagree, cameras are no substitute for cops.

  39. Jim McGrath says:

    BR, if you go to our website http://www.keephoustonsafe.com and look in the Media section, you will see people running red lights long after the added second you tout has elapsed. The chronic, habitual red light runners do so because they think they can get away with it — which, if you had your way, they will continue to do 94 percent of the time.

    Your belief that intersections could be made safer without cameras or cops is, in a word, utopian. Look at the video.

    What’s wrong with having photographic evidence of those who would break the law 24/7? Again, if it is good enough for the Houston Police Officers’ Union, our new Police Chief, and others who do public safety for a living — and not just blog about it waaay too much — well, maybe that’s why 65 percent of Houstonians also support the program.

  40. br allen says:

    And doesn’t the fact that this video exists prove that the cameras don’t stop that activity? Isn’t that a huge flaw in your logic posting videos of people running red lights under the watch of red light cameras and causing accidents at the same time telling us that the cameras prevent people from doing that very thing we can see them doing in the video? The cameras have been up at those locations for YEARS and we still see that kind of blatant activity? I thought the cameras change people’s driving habits?

    If you have your way 100% of red light runners stay on the streets to run red lights with impugnity. The cameras have never arrested a single red light runner. You don’t think those chronic red light runners know where the cameras are now? The have Iphone and GPS apps to tell you where they are, if you google “houston red light cameras” you get maps of every camera in the city. If someone truly were a blatant red light runner wouldn’t they finally figure out that if they just throw the violation away that nothing will happen to them? Isn’t that why Houston’s collection rate is so dismal? Why do you think a blatant red light runner would all of the sudden change his habits because he gets a piece of paper in the mail with toothless threats?

    Problem is most red light accidents are not due to people deliberately running the red light, they are due to weather conditions, drunk driving, distraction, talking or texting while driving etc. Since those are the largest cause of red light violation accidents and cameras do NOTHING to prevent those types of accidents engineering methods that make a large reduction in those types of accidents are the best way to make a large improvement overall on safety. For the deliberate red light runners that will blow through an intersection long after it is red they should face the harshest penalties. As your camera video proves the cameras haven’t stopped those types of red light runners, and sending them a ticket in the mail that they will probably ignore since they face NO PENALTY for ignoring it will just encourage them to do it again.

    Nothing utopian about the fact that you can engineer the intersections to be safer. TTI and ITE have demonstrated it over and over again, you can reduce red light violations and accidents 30-40% by implementing engineering standards that increase safety, better signal visibility, improved signal timing, backplates to make signals more visible, strobes for the red light cycle, improved all red clearance levels, better intersections markings, etc. What would you rather have, 30-40% reduction in accidents from engineering or the no reduction in accidents under the cameras? I would take the better safety improvements with real criminal penalties for the dangerous red light runners over a less effective more abusive money grab any day, wouldn’t you? Oh, sorry, that’s right you get paid to think that no accident reduction is better than 30-40% and that decriminalizing red light running is the best penalty for a red light runner instead of a criminal charge.

  41. br allen says:

    Oh, must have missed it, 65% of houstonians don’t support the cameras, 65% of the 500 people in the poll you commisioned answered your questions favorably. We don’t know what 65% of Houstonians think unless we ask 65% of Houstonians. Didn’t roughly the same number of people in college station say the same thing? What happened in the vote in college station? Didn’t the people vote the cameras out? In fact hasn’t photoenforcement been voted down every single time it has gone to the ballot by as much as 86%? Isn’t that a more telling statistic on the views of the people on photoenforcement?