Skip to comments.City OKs red-light cameras (Denton, Texas)
Posted on 12/10/2004 6:37:24 AM PST by Redbob
Red-light runners beware: Cameras soon will be watching in Denton.
The City Council this week approved a new ordinance for the installation of cameras on some streets to photograph cars that run red lights. The measure, similar to ones in Garland, Frisco, Richardson and Plano, aims to prevent accidents.
City officials will search for a vendor early next year to install and operate the system, and cameras will be placed at yet-to-be-chosen intersections by the end of 2005.
Violators will be mailed $75 tickets. For people with three or more violations, the ticket is $150.
"Hopefully the cameras will cut down on the number of people going through red lights, and cut down on the accidents weve had," said City Council member Jack Thomson.
Advocates for camera-based red-light enforcement note studies in other states that show up to a 60 percent reduction in red-light running accidents, but critics say the cameras intrude on privacy and are simply a revenue-generating measure.
No residents voiced opinions on the camera system at a City Council meeting this week.
Council members say the pros outweigh the cons.
Denton had 213 accidents involving red-light runners between 2002 and 2004 and police issued 2,354 citations for violations in that span, city statistics show. Cameras could reduce those numbers, said council member Bob Montgomery.
"Its a reasonable way to enforce traffic rules thats not too Big Brother," Montgomery said.
Heres how the automated camera system would work:
With street signs warning drivers that an intersection is "photo-enforced," a pole-mounted camera would snap pictures of vehicles that run red lights.
A citation and photo of the violation would be mailed to the vehicles owner. Drivers can either pay the ticket or appeal to a city-appointed hearing officer. A car owner can sign an affidavit that someone else was driving the car, and that person then would be liable.
The citation is civil, not criminal, so it wouldnt show up on a persons driving record or affect car insurance rates, said Denton police Lt. Scott Fletcher.
"The goal is to eliminate violations and prevent accidents," Fletcher said.
While several attempts to pass laws that allow red-light cameras failed in the Texas Legislature in recent years because of privacy issues, a recent amendment allows cities to issue civil penalties based on camera-observed violations.
Garland used that rule to set up the first camera system in the North Texas area in September 2003.
It charges $75 per red-light violation caught on camera at four different intersections in the city. The city has recorded 29,000-plus violations.
Garlands program prompted Frisco, Richardson, Plano and now Denton to advance plans for cameras at city intersections.
In Denton, finding locations to install cameras might be a problem because the Texas Department of Transportation doesnt allow cameras at intersections on state-controlled roads. The majority of the citys 101 traffic signals are on state roads.
So police identified the intersections of Eagle Drive and Carroll Boulevard, Bell Avenue and Hickory Street, and Bell and McKinney Street as potential camera sites.
More research on locations will be done before installing cameras, Fletcher said.
Each camera costs about $6,000, and the program would pay for itself from there, Fletcher said. If the program generates revenue, the money would go into a public safety fund dedicated to traffic improvements.
Overall, city officials laud the plans potential to bolster safety because cameras would monitor intersections 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"People will be a lot more aware," Thomson said. "It will be a big deterrent."
HOW THE STOPLIGHT CAMERAS WILL WORK
By the end of 2005, the city expects to install cameras to snap photos of red-light runners.
Heres how itd work:
A camera mounted at an intersection activates when a light turns red
The cameras takes a picture of a car that enters on red
A second picture is taken of the cars license plate as it goes through
Embedded on the photo is the date, time, intersection, car speed, length of the lights yellow interval and the length of time the light had been red at the time of the photograph.
If police verify a violation, a violator would be mailed a $75 ticket with:
An explanation of the violation
An 8-inch-by-10-inch photo of the vehicle in intersection
Tips for handling tickets and how to pay
A process to contest the violation
Third and subsequent violations would be $150.
As if they were about ANYthing other than raising revenue. Once Denton discovers revenues falling, they'll take two steps: First, they'll reduce the length of time a light is yellow to almost nonexistance; Then they'll remove the signs indicating which intersections have the cameras.
Note in this article that:
"More research on locations will be done before installing cameras, Fletcher said."
And the "research" isn't even going to consider which intersections, if any, actually have problems with accidents caused by red-light runners.
I don't never run red lights, but I think I'm going to get one of those light-diffusing license plate covers...
Can we sue the City of Denton when people start slamming on their brakes when the light turns yellow in an attempt to avoid the camera fine? The City of San Diego provded that these things are just another greedy government tool and not for traffic enforcement.
I suspect a lot of people despise those f*#@ing selfish b*st*rd red-light runners, and think it's high time something was done to kick them in their arses (and wallets). If it also just happens to generate revenue for traffic enforcement, so be it.
Last I heard on this issue, Lockheed Martin manufactures these cameras. They install them, maintain them, and they get a peice of the action for their efforts. That's right they get a percentage of all the fines generated. They have already been caught, in at least one instance, lowering the yellow light time as a way to increase their take. They would have gotten away with it, but an engineer got ticked and he challenged them and won. I wonder who monitors these revenue generators for accuracy at all the other locations???
If you want to find where such cameras are in your community, or just report them so others will be forewarned, go to
What, for the cost of excessive brake wear?
The City of San Diego provded that these things are just another greedy government tool
If it turns out that the city shortened the length of the yellow light, that would be the case. Indeed, there have been studies that show when the city lengthens the duration of the yellow lights, red-light violations go down. However, once the driving public gets used to the longer yellow, the red-light violations go back up.
Bottom line: a certain group of people will run red lights as long as they think they can get away with it. If the city is using the cameras as a tool to generate revenue -- e.g. shorter yellow lights -- city officials must be exposed.
Yeah, well if you actually read the article, you'll see that here in Denton, as in most other places, this is not about "stopping those ferdammt red-light runners" at all:
It's all about, and only about, generating revenue to support a profligate, irresponsible city government.
Time and time again, where these cameras are installed, the number of light runners drops so sharply that the cameras no longer produce the amount of revenue guaranteed to the private camera operating company.
What happens then?
Take a guess.
That's right: the next step is to sharply shorten the amount of time the yellow light is on, to increase the revenues.
So tell me again: What does this have to do with highway safety?
Why don't we install "photo enforced" pork spending cameras in legislatures around the country? The moment a politician proposes useless wasteful spending or attempts to sneak it into budgets, the camera snaps a picture and sends them a bill.
Think of the improvement in citizen marksmanship though, now that the city is kind enough to provide all these free targets.
And Australian study found that that is exactly what happens, and the number of rear-end collisions increases accordingly.
Reckon I'll need a silencer for my sligshot?
Well, I read through it a second time, and the only fact in the story that I could find which could remotely support your claim is that a lot of the heavy traffic is on state roads and the cameras cannot be installed on them.
That's right: the next step is to sharply shorten the amount of time the yellow light is on, to increase the revenues.
If you'll actually read my response (again?), you'll note that I addressed that potential problem. Get your stopwatch out. Time the yellows now. Time them again after the cameras are installed. Time them again a year later. Time them until you get what you're looking for. It's not rocket science and it doesn't take a lot of effort. If your city officials are so stupid as to shorten the yellows, nail 'em. Then, look at the bright side: maybe you and your fellow citizens will vote them out of office.
Now THERE's an idea!
Problem is, we'd need our Congresscritters to approve it, and the likelihood of that is...
This crap (raising taxes under the pretext of law enforcement) is giving respectable middle-class folks a contempt for cops that rivals that of ghetto gang-bangers.
This bears repeating.
Well, read it ONE more time, and try to find a reference to research showing that accidents are caused in this town by red-light runners, or that the "research" being done to find locations for the cameras has anything whatsoever to do with safety or accident statistics.
I apologize for the harsh tone of my previous posts, but I have scant patience for people, such as those in our city, who base their decision on what "everybody knows" about a supposed problem.
In this case, it's clear that the red-light cameras will be located based on one consideration only:
where will the State allow Denton to install them.
So, does anyone bother to resist?
I don't mean to sound uncharitable, but this mindset is not fit for self government. Someone who thinks with a collectivist, authoritarian mindset like this belongs in a nanny state.
Well, then, there are plenty of those you can go to, but don't waste your breath endorsing one here.
Watch the time the light stays yellow drop dramatically. That is the way most cities make money off this. If a light previously stayed yellow for 6 seconds, after they install the camera the time will drop to 2 seconds so they can photograph you in the intersection with the red light on before you have time to react.
No comments smells. I find it hard to believe that no residents had any opinions one way or the other. Hmm I wonder if this were an agenda item added at the last minute. That how city governments usually work it at "public" meeting when they want to do something to sh!t on the public.
, they'll reduce the length of time a light is yellow to almost nonexistance
It's sad that so many people like you enable the government to do whatever it wants unchecked. It's even sadder that you do not think about the consequences of government micromanaging the lives of citizens in the name of "safety."
"Denton had 213 accidents involving red-light runners between 2002 and 2004 and police issued 2,354 citations for violations in that span, city statistics show."
or that the "research" being done to find locations for the cameras has anything whatsoever to do with safety or accident statistics.
Granted, there's no mention of that in the story. So, it leaves open the possibility that your claim is correct. If you have knowledge of their locating the cameras without any consideration for where they'll be effective in reducing accidents, I'm sure you'll forgive me for being unfamiliar with those facts that don't appear in the story.
Oh, puh-leeze. If it can be demonstrated that this system is fail-safe, the only difference between this and putting a cop at the intersections 24x7 to nab red-light runners is the cost (also, cops don't take pictures and can make mistakes, e.g. was that light really red before you entered the intersection?).
It's even sadder that you do not think about the consequences of government micromanaging the lives of citizens in the name of "safety."
Look, I'm as anti-nanny-gov't and as pro-Amendments IV and VI as anyone else. If you equate simple enforcement of even the most fundamental of traffic laws with "micromanaging the lives of citizens," ...
THAT remains to be proven!
My post #28 is for you, too.
Not at all. I'd much rather have bazookas mounted on my front fenders and take out the SOBs myself. Matter of fact, a couple evenings ago, it's a good thing I wasn't driving an old, beat up pickup truck. I might have sacrificed it to teach one of those red-light runners a lesson in common courtesy.
Seems to me that, since the "vast majority of the busy intersections in this town are on state roads," you Dentonites ceded any hope of exercising local control a long time ago. You're living under the thumb of people in Austin. Was it so that the state will maintain your busiest streets for you? Regardless, the citizens of Denton are powerless to do this if they wanted to. You have to get permission from the great state of Texas.
Talk about living under the care of Big Brother...
One thing sticks in my mind as I have driven through Denton. If you go through town on US 380, you will be stopped at every instersection through what seems to be a maze of unsynchronized stop lights....for what seems like 20 or 30 lights. I can see how this can be a revenue generator situation....I hate driving through downtown Denton.
I wish! Cameras are everywhere these days. I hear that in jolly olde England, folks have taken to firebombing the things. I hope that starts happening here.
The Wonderlful Land of IF.
I was interested in any FReepers who have had personal experience with photo traffic citations. Especially in CA and for supposedly running a red light. I received a citation in the mail. They claim I ran the red light while making a "right-on-red."
I have a friend who has been photo ticketed with a red light cam. The yellow at the intersection is outrageously short; there's barely time for a car to cross the entire intersection before red, even if you're entering right at the change to yellow. Total revenue trap.
You should be able to face your accuser in court. You cannot do this with an automated ticketing system.
I don't mind cameras being used to back up the evidence of the crime but I want an officer stationed with that camera citing the driver at the time of the offense.
Oops, somebody goofed; there's an error in the process. Fix it (match plate numbers to cars prior to mailing?) and move on. Unfortunately for the man in the story, it's taken way too long for the bureaucrats to get a clue.
Photo Traffic Light Citations
Interesting, and inconclusive. I'd be curious to know how many other drivers have reported the same experience (even at the same intersection). Did she really stop? Surely these things generate more than enough revenue to provide for periodic human monitoring to ensure their accuracy.
At any rate, thanks for the input. That's exactly what these municipalities need to hear when this stuff comes up for debate, "lessons learned" from others who've been there and done that and, "Tell me, Mr. Red-Light Camera System Vendor, how I can be certain this mistake won't happen here, with your system."
Imagine what it's like to LIVE around here!
We'll drive miles out of our way on the perimeter road to avoid ever setting a wheel into that quagmire!
But you see, it's not the state that's putting up the cameras - we've got control of them!
But a handful of power-mad liberals from the U. of North Texas run the city council here, and think they can fix anytyhing with a new law or two -- shoot, you'd fit right in!
Of course. But, the point was and still is -- is it really so difficult? -- you can't put them where you want to (even if you wanted to). With the right process and the right oversight, these cameras could do some good. But, your daddy in Austin won't let you do it. They hold all your cards.
But a handful of power-mad liberals from the U. of North Texas run the city council here,
So what? Vote them out or, if it's really so bad, leave them and their sorry POS town.
and think they can fix anytyhing with a new law or two
A new law or two? Who needs a new law? The real issue here is nothing more than enforcing that basic, fundamental law regarding a red traffic signal. Obey it, no problem. Run it, pay a fine. Is that so counter to your convictions? Are you one of those all-laws-are-bad-laws libertarians? (I knew one in college; he honestly believed there should be no traffic laws.)
shoot, you'd fit right in!
Hardly. But, if it makes you feel better to say that than to debate the real issue, go for it. I couldn't care less.
Coincidentally, cameras showed up at some busy, under-construction intersections right here in my town a few months ago. (Oddly, they were all aimed at approaching traffic; so, they couldn't be 'red-light' cameras, could they?) I called Traffic Engineering to find out why. They said they're there to help traffic flow during the construction, and would be monitored afterward to adjust traffic signal cycles.
A few weeks after the construction was done at each intersection, the cameras disappeared. If they hadn't, I'd be back on the phone or at a council meeting to find out what's going on.
I like to take action, rather than just sit on my arse and b*tch about things. I sure as hell wouldn't sit around and live my life subject to the whims of a bunch of liberal college pukes if I didn't absolutely have to. Surely there are some conservative jurisdictions in TX where they'd welcome you with open arms.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go time some yellow lights (just in case).
See you around. Have a good weekend.
Had a friend and his family "T-boned" by a red light runner(no insurance)in Dallas, where routinely 2 and sometimes 3 cars run a light after it turns red. I'm in favor of connecting a .50 caliber to the camera and shooting all the 3rd car drivers for starters!
"It's even sadder that you do not think about the consequences..."
Funny too how so many "law abiding" Conservaties spend so much time figuring out how to evade the law?
Not sure if it's a consequence of installing the red light cameras, but the light timing in Plano rocks. All the major streets flow quite nicely, especially during rush hour.
"It's even sadder that you do not think about the consequences of government micromanaging the lives of citizens in the name of "safety.""
One of the arguments for further gun regulation and immigration issues is that the gov't doesn't enforce the laws in effect now.
He we have the gov't trying to enforce current laws and the accusation is the gov't is unchecked and miromanaging?
Stay the hell outta my way and don't impose your liberal BIG BROTHER restrictions on the way I drive BUMP.
(Yeah - it's just too damn difficult to use judgement and avoid running red lights.)
The government is almost completely unchecked, and is most certainly micromanaging to generate more revenue. We do not, have not, and would never need a cop at every stoplight, so the pretense of a red light camera is bogus. However, people are willing to sell anything in the name of safety.