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And more red light cameras have been installed

Via Houstonist, there are now ten more red light cameras around the town. Here they are, so you’ll know where to behave yourself:

  • West Loop at San Felipe (east frontage road)
  • Southwest Freeway at Bellaire (west frontage road)
  • Bissonnet westbound at Southwest Freeway east frontage road
  • Southwest Freeway at Beechnut (east frontage road)
  • Southwest Freeway at Fondren (east frontage road)
  • Chartres northbound at St. Joseph’s Parkway
  • El Dorado northbound at Gulf Freeway
  • Hollister northbound at 290 west frontage road
  • West Road eastbound at North Freeway west frontage road
  • North Wayside southbound at East Freeway north frontage road

And while many people (150 a day, by Houstonist’s count) have been receiving tickets for running red lights, far fewer have actually paid them so far.

About a quarter of drivers ticketed from September through December had paid the fine by the end of the year, Houston Police Department records show.

The actual collection rate may be higher because of a lag time between when a driver receives a violation and pays the fine, said Adam Tuton, vice president of American Traffic Solutions Inc., the camera vendor.

Violators have 45 days to pay or request a hearing to contest the citation. So some drivers ticketed in December still have time to pay, or payments already made may be recorded in January statistics.

More than 14,000 citations were issued between September, when the program went into effect, and December. That includes 10 city intersections where cameras were first installed, as well as 10 more locations where cameras began photographing violators’ license plates in November.

“The program is working much like we anticipated,” said Sgt. Michael Muench, who oversees it.


When the camera-monitoring program began, police estimated a quarter of violators would pay their tickets.

Houston Police Department Budget Director Larry Yium said then that the estimate was low and somewhat arbitrary. Jim Tuton, Adam Tuton’s brother and the CEO of ATS, said previously that he expected the collection rate to be as high as 90 percent, based on collections in other cities.

Unpaid citations are referred to collection agencies, so nonpayment could show up on credit reports. But because camera-generated citations are civil, not criminal, courts can’t issue arrest warrants for those who don’t pay, as they can for drivers who don’t pay speeding tickets — or red-light tickets issued by police who witness violations.

The lack of that criminal tool against violators caught on camera may partly explain why the city hasn’t been able to dragoon more violators into paying.

There’s a big difference between 25% and 90%. I’m guessing that 90% projection was made with the incorrect assumption that there would be criminal sanctions for not paying up. Even still, 25% seems a bit low. I know I’d pay up, because I wouldn’t want to find out what would happen to me if I didn’t, even if I knew it wouldn’t result in criminal charges. Perhaps I’m more risk-averse than the people who are getting ticketed. That wouldn’t surprise me.

Questions: How long does it take before a second notice goes out, and how does that affect the payment rate? When will the collection agencies get involved? And how much of a revenue generator can this thing be if three out of four people ignore the tickets they get?

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  1. Alan says:

    Charlotte, NC is taking down their red light cameras. They were the first city in NC to install them back in the late 90s. They passed a state (or city?) law that said 90% of the revenue had to go to funding public schools, which made them impossible to operate since something like 70% of the revenue goes to the ‘camera company.’ Houston should follow their lead and get rid of these things. The duration of the yellow signal on the traffic light here is the shortest in the country.

  2. Trafficnerd says:

    There are serious issues with the way TxDOT Houston District constructs traffic lights at their freeway intersections. In most cases this is only an issue on the cross street going under the freeway, not on the frontage road.

    TxDOT typically does not use louvers to restrict the view of the green lights at the second intersection, this can lead to increased red light running when people mistakenly look at the light that is further away and see the green instead of the red that is closest.

    At split or box diamonds where the cross street is divided wide the issue is more pronounced as it affects both the cross street and the frontage roads. This lack of “effort” on TxDOT’s part contributed to a fatality a few years back at FM 1960 and IH 45. In response to that fatality TxDOT installed 8 inch green heads instead of the standard 12 inch at the downstream intersection. of course with the new LED signal indications there is very little difference in luminous intensity between the 8 and 12 inch heads. Short of louvering the downstream intersection, TxDOT will never make this problem go away. Geometrically, Wayside at I-10 east is an intersection like this, I wonder what the downstream heads are, 8 inch greens, 12 inch greens, or louvered anything.

    Some of these locations may be suffering from this situation. Most of these locations strike me as overcapacity interchanges.

    I wonder the last time they were retimed…

    West Road at the northbound north frwy frontage road is one location that causes me some concern. 1) You are coming out from under the bridge, signals like this frequently are hard to see. 2) I haven’t been through the intersection in some time, but I am assuming it is running TTI 4 Phase timing which is likely, but unless the timing is horribly screwed up, the only way for you to run the eastbound red on the northside is if you also ran a red at the southside of the interchange. If the signal is timed such that you can get a red at the northside without having done so then the internal offset is screwed up IMHO and it needs retimed to get rid of that.

    I wish we could get an accounting of what the City / TxDOT / and Law Enforcement have done to counter the identified “crash problem” before resorting to cameras.

    My bet is on very little and this is my frustration with the cameras.

  3. I hope that all photo red ticket recipients refuse to pay. This will send the message that Houston drivers are not going to play the time and distance guessing game where the rules are stacked against the innocent driver.

  4. Prove Our Democracy with Paper Ballots says:

    Let’s see:
    shortest time on yellow lights +
    red light cameras
    more crashes and injuries

    …also put into minority neighborhoods = ?

    Might this have nothing to do with revenue but rather something sinister? I am just quessing…it will take “real journalists” to investigate.

    Hillary Clinton says she will take on the Privacy issue in her campaign. She better hurry and start.

    In the meanwhile, call your Rep. on this one, please:


    I hope you will contact your representatives and tell them to rescind H.R. Bill 418 before they stick a cowbell on us all.


    H.R. 418 is a bill that the 109th Congress slipped into a bill for Katrina relief. H.R. 418 is a Jack-in-the-box bill which is set to become effective in May of 2008, just prior to the presidential elections.

    This bill places into law a required driver’s license and/or state I.D. that contains a GPS tracking chip. This bill requires all states to comply with no exceptions. For anyone who refuses to accept this satelite tracking chip, they will be denied access to any planes and flights whether domestic or international, and access to any Federal buildings in or out of the U.S.


    Along with illegally tapping our phones and illegally opening our mail, we are now going to be globally tracked via satelite, like a package, any where we go. The next thing to come will be to lump our medical records, work records, school records, credit records and anything else about us under this chip-tracking device.


    Now they are branding us and tracking us after they have throughly examined us. If they think you are worth anything you will be admitted to their world. Otherwise, you can starve to death in the streets…


  5. linda kujawa says: