Crashes increase after red-light cameras removed in Round Rock

Round Rock Police saw an increase of crashes caused by red light runners at US 79 and AW Grimes Boulevard, after removing red light cameras (KXAN Photo/Lauren Kravets)
Round Rock Police saw an increase of crashes caused by red light runners at US 79 and AW Grimes Boulevard, after removing red light cameras (KXAN Photo/Lauren Kravets)

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — It has been a year since Round Rock decided to get rid of their red light cameras; so KXAN checked to see if the number of crashes have been impacted.

The Round Rock Police Department provided data that shows from July 1 to Nov. 15 of 2015, when the city still had red light cameras, there was just one crash caused by a red-light runner. Once the cameras came down, there were eleven crashes from drivers who ran red lights from Nov. 16, 2015 – June 30, 2016. Five of the crashes happened at US 79 and A.W. Grimes Boulevard, and five happened at Ranch Road 620 at the Interstate 35 south frontage road.

Round Rock Mayor Pro Tem Craig Morgan says a lack of cameras at those intersections aren’t necessarily to blame.

“The contributing factors of that was speeding, failure to yield right of way, and inattentive driving,” said Morgan. “It doesn’t matter if there’s a camera there or not, if you’re violating those three aspects of the law, you’re going to have a cause for an accident.”

Morgan was never in favor of red light cameras. He says the city program was not effective because they could not force people to pay their fines. Getting caught on camera running a red light is considered a civil penalty.

“Over time we didn’t see any decrease of red light runners,” said Morgan.

Round Rock Police are replacing cameras with officer enforcement. Since the cameras were taken down, officers have targeted intersections 15 times looking for red light runners. They concentrated on Mays Street and E. Palm Valley Boulevard, E. Palm Valley Boulevard and A.W. Grimes, Forest Creek and Red Bud Lane, and Hester Crossing and the I-35 Northbound frontage road. Police handed out 18 tickets and made one arrest. But even that may not be enough to deter drivers.

“At a certain point it’s just personal responsibility and personal accountability and we just have to do our best to be aware of our surrounding area,” said Morgan.

Round Rock Police say rear-end collisions per day were lowered after they got rid of the red-light cameras. When the cameras were present, some people say drivers were more likely to slam on their brakes to avoid running a red light and getting caught on camera.