House Bill 1631 that would ban the use of red light camera system has officially been signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott this month. This law bans red light cameras across the entire state of Texas, and would phase the cameras out of existence immediately in cities where contracts allow.
KVUE ABC reports that there are less than five cities in Texas that would be unable to get out of red light camera contracts early.
The Austin-based news station reports that Austin’s contract will be terminated at no-fault immediately. The physical red light cameras will still be up and in plain-sight, but the actual photo-enforced tickets you get in the mail will cease to exist straightaway.
A City of Austin spokesperson told KVUE ABC, “The City has directed our vendor to cease red light camera enforcement. Any traffic ticket photos taken after June 1st, 2019 shall be null or void.”
While this is good news for anyone who has run a red light after June 1st, Representative Ramon Romero urged the Senate and House last month to reconsider the ban of red light cameras, as he believes they still have a useful purpose in T-bone accident prevention.
“If you have any question about this vote and whether or not your vote is going to contribute, towards another death, make no mistake, because that’s exactly what you’re about to do,” said Romero, as reported by KVUE ABC.
Lawmakers arguing for the ban sighted red light cameras as unconstitutional because they place burden of proof of innocence on the driver, and concluded that they don’t stop drivers from driving through red lights.
In other cities across Texas, city officials have also turned off their cameras and have ceased handing out tickets.
The Dallas Morning News reports that Dallas, Duncanville, Fort Worth, Garland, Grand Prairie Irving and Plano have all turned off their cameras, and that Fort Worth and Garland are even denying payments from drivers who received fines in the weeks before the House Bill 1631 became law.
In Forth Worth alone, the red light cameras brough in $9.6 million in 2018, which The Dallas Morning News reports was being used for “funded traffic safety activities such as maintaining traffic signage, pavement markings, traffic signals, crosswalks and intersection lighting,”.
The city, and likely many cities in Texas, are looking at their budgets to make-up the money that will be lost from the red light cameras.
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