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."