Skip to comments.Red-light camera fines to begin Sept. 1 (Houston)
Posted on 08/08/2006 7:08:43 AM PDT by Xenalyte
Running a red light at 10 camera-equipped Houston intersections will cost $75 starting Sept. 1 and there will be no warning period to get drivers used to the idea.
The Houston Police Department and Phoenix-based American Traffic Solutions are launching a public awareness campaign this month to let drivers know the much-discussed program is finally here.
"Our message is basically be aware," said Sgt. Michael Muench of the police department's traffic division.
"We're hoping that everybody should be watching the red lights anyhow, but this is going to be an added tool for us to try to change drivers' behavior and operate their vehicles more safety," said Muench, supervisor of the program.
When enforcement begins, fines will be issued without a grace period. There was some confusion about whether violators would receive warning letters as part of this month's awareness campaign, but that is not taking place, Muench said.
Warning letters were issued last year to violators during a trial phase of the cameras, before a contractor was chosen.
ATS is airing commercials about the cameras on several local radio stations and developing an educational brochure that will be printed in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.
The city will take still photographs and video at the intersections and add 10 at a time until the 50 most dangerous intersections are monitored. Locations are being chosen based on crash data by a committee of representatives from the Houston-Galveston Area Council, Rice University and the HPD Traffic Division.
The police department expects to release the second list of 10 intersections within the next few weeks, Muench said. That list will include major intersections owned by the Texas Department of Transportation, after Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott ruled in late June that the city could install cameras at those sites.
The first 10 intersections have changed slightly since being announced in June. Hillcroft at Westpark has been removed because the intersection belongs to Harris County, not the city. And for now, no cameras will be installed at Bellaire at Fondren and Bingle at Pinemont because construction there is ongoing or planned, Muench said.
Instead, cameras are being installed at Brazos at Elgin, Pease at LaBranch and Hillcroft at Richmond.
The project was stalled at City Hall for months by rejected contractors who said the vendor-selection process was unfair. Further delays were caused by engineering problems, Muench said.
Because the cameras are small and difficult to see, signs are being installed at intersections to warn drivers.
Each camera is mounted on a 20-foot pole built about 50 feet back from one corner of the intersection, said Jim Tuton, chief executive of ATS. The poles have a beige control box near the bottom, a camera about 12 feet up and a flash bulb at the top, he said.
The camera photographs the back license tag, not the driver. So a civil citation will go to the owner of the car and not necessarily to the person who drove through the red light. An owner caught on camera faces a $75 penalty. Getting caught by a police officer carries a maximum $200 fine.
Before camera citations are issued, taped violations will be reviewed by one of two police officers dedicated full time to the project, Muench said.
Critics of the program say it's an effort by the city to raise money. The Police Department says the goal is safety.
At Milam and Elgin, driver Stephanie Rayos agreed better enforcement could improve safety.
Rayos, 28, drives through the intersection weekly. "It's pretty busy here so it would be nice to get some control," she said.
Houston red-light camera revenue grab ping!
ah...Houston, you have a problem.
Because as we all know, it's lots safer to slam on your brakes and be rear-ended by the latte-sipping cell-phone-talking no-attention-paying soccer mom in the Hummer behind you than to run the light and get out of her way.
Sure, thats why the cities always shave a few seconds off the yellow lights at these red light cams intersections...its for the "children".
Where is a list of all the sites?
As long as the camera works properly, fine by me. Sic 'em. Folks don't have a right to break traffic laws with impunity.
used to have red light cameras here too.
then, just as they were breaking even and actually
making money even, it was decided that they were
illegal. so they were shut down..... sigh...
They just started this, plus speed cams in Albuquerque. :(
Go to http://www.highwayrobbery.net/ to see how we fight these tickets in CA. They can often be beat.
That is very handy - many thanks!
Yes, it is a very handy website.
My dear husband beat a red light ticket using what he learned from that website. :-)
Wonder if Houston will do what Phoenix did, that is to shorten the yellow light interval, which trips the camera sooner to create more revenue.
They say not, but I don't know as I believe them.
"This time for sure."
First Texans let their cops arrest you for the crime of having a drink in a hotel bar, now this. What is it with that place?
Charlotte, NC did something like that. What they found is that the intersections with the cameras (minority) were set to a short period of yellow than the others (majority). So logic dictated that they started changing all of them to the short time period as they were serviced...logic at work...
And what happens to all of those Metro buses that are violators? Does the city pick up the cost of those tickets since the owner and not the driver is cited?
Except that (A) such cameras are known to ticket people making a legal right turn on red and (B) sometimes cameras identify the wrong vehicle (I know someone who received numerous tickets for someone else's vehicle which looked nothing like his car).
Here in Cali, I know the picture has to be of "driver recognizable quality", or the agency won't even mail you the ticket knowing they'd lose, since you don't ticket the car, you cite the driver....with only rear plates, what's the drill??
I guess they just want the money for downtown projects, not the cameras themselves.
This is a fine, it isn't a ticket. They are trying to skate by on technicalities.
In related news, paintball gun sales show an unexpected rise...
That's okay. Wait until the ATMs are armed and permitted to shoot those they "think" are violators trying to rob the bank.
"They'd make more money with a red light district camera."
You'd catch to many politicians and judges.
Socialist thieving. Lots and lots and lots of public spending.
How about the off duty police officer in his personal car breaking laws all day long. Will he be held accountable.
You mean the Metro buses that burn $$$$$$ driving 2 people around? Time to pony up, Houston. Government doesn't like to be uncomfortably lean in its tax revenue/social services account.
Please add me to the Houston Ping list, thanks.
There are fools who think that Metrorail down Richmond is going to get cars off the road (besides those Metrorail hits).
Well it WILL take Metro buses off of Richmond.
Why don't they put red light cameras on Main Street where the rail is and people are at risk for running red lights.
And in the interest of disclosure, I am affected by several of these lights and will do what I can to avoid any glitches in their latest tax scheme. Chief among those being avoiding those intersections altogether.
I used to believe that. Problem is the city will deliberately shorten the yellow light to gain more revenue. That causes more accidents and injuries. But hey, whats a few dead citizens when weighed against more money for the city.
There are two cameras, one is across the intersection from you, it takes a photo of your face if you are traveling in that direction or your plate if you are moving away from it the other is behind you it take s a photo of your license plate, or your face if you are on the other side of the intersection.
Maybe THIS is their plan for getting people to abandon their cars and ride mass transit.
I will be telling one of the restaurants that I semi-frequent for lunch that I will not be a customer for much longer and that they can tell the city that I told them this is why. I will not risk a flakey system's ticket just to get a meal.
Gotcha - thanks!
Any sharpshooters handy who can "end" the program? LOL
civil violations to the owner,
translation- it is 100% revenue generators and NOT safety related.
Since it is the same as a parking ticket and does not affect the license, you don't have any due process rights.
IOOW you don't have due process to the government take money away from you. It is literally taxation without representation.
(where have I heard that before?....)
Just start a camera program filming the police in action.
Fox 26 used to do that and get shrugged off by the chief of police.
Want to make a bet the "reviewing officers" have a list of 'do not issue citation' people?
For a minute I wondered if Mayor White was a Republican would this have been possible. Then I remembered White getting pressure to drop the ideal so he drove to Austin unannounced to see Gov Perry in closed door meeting. After the doors open the program had the green light so to speak. The lines are blurred between Republicans and Democrats principles and the public is wisen up.
Uh, what if the owner of the car wasn't driving the car at the time? Do they still get the ticket? Way to go Houston.....I think they may need more Municpal Court space.
Texas Government Code, Chapter 552, gives you the right to access government records; and an officer for public information and the officer's agent may not ask why you want them. All government information is presumed to be available to the public. Certain exceptions may apply to the disclosure of the information.
It like a parking ticket you do not have due process of law. All the City needs is a larger mail box.