Red light cameras could soon be banned across Texas

The Hutto City Council will have to decide whether to keep two red light cameras, including this one at U.S. 79 and FM 1660 N. (KXAN Photo/Lauren Kravets)
The Hutto City Council will have to decide whether to keep two red light cameras, including this one at U.S. 79 and FM 1660 N. (KXAN Photo/Lauren Kravets)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Senate Transportation Committee is discussing Senate Bills 87 and 88 that would ban red light cameras across the state of Texas.

Austin police say they have nine red light cameras stationed throughout the city. Sgt. David McDonald with APD Highway Enforcement says they have seen a drastic reduction in crashes at those intersections, up to 88 percent in some areas.

The nine cameras cost the city $584,000 per year and some years, the city is not making that cost back in citations. However, Sgt. McDonald says the cameras are still worth it.

“But when you look at what’s it’s doing and the safety aspect, officers aren’t having to go out there and respond to collisions, EMS isn’t going out there, AFD isn’t going out there, it’s still a cost-saving measure for the city,” said Sgt. McDonald.

Sgt. McDonald says red lights cameras are installed as a last resort after engineers determine there is nothing else that can be done to improve the intersection. Right now, police want to move two of their cameras to other dangerous intersections, like Braker Lane and Interstate 35 or Lakeline Boulevard and Highway 183. APD also wants to add five more cameras in the city, but they are waiting to see what happens in the Texas Legislature.

The City of Round Rock got rid of their red light cameras in 2015 and saw an increase in crashes one year later. Officials say the cameras were not effective at preventing crashes or drivers from running red lights. They also say they could not enforce people to pay their fines. Instead, the city replaced the red light cameras with officer enforcement.

Getting a red light ticket in Austin costs you $75. From July 2014 to June 2015 there was a total of 51 crashes at red light intersections. There were zero fatalities at those intersections. APD issued a total of 10,600 red light citations during that time period.

Editor’s Note: Previous versions of this article incorrectly stated how much the city was making on the cameras. The article has been revised throughout.

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