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Old 03-27-2008, 07:40 AM   #1
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Houston Red Light Cameras - Update

I know some don't like them but maybe, just maybe, one of the one-third who no longer run red lights is the one that doesn't take me out at an intersection.

As extra red-light cams went up, tickets went down
Officials say drivers, knowing they are being watched, have changed habits

2008 Houston Chronicle
Check out road conditions and more Red-light camera citations have decreased steadily since Houston police boosted their monitoring at intersections six months ago, newly released records show.

The number of citations declined by a third, to 17,000 last month from a high of 27,000 in October all after police added an extra 20 cameras and began fining motorists for illegal turns.

The rapid decline at the 70 camera locations is a sign, city and police officials say, that more motorists know they are being watched and are more cautious about getting nabbed.

"If a person is going the same route day after day, and then they get a ticket because they ran a red light, they are less likely to run the light," Mayor Bill White said Monday.

Overall, the cameras have nabbed more than 230,000 vehicles since they went online in September 2006.

About 60 percent of those motorists have paid their fines, resulting in more than $11.5 million in revenue. The police department has spent $4 million operating the system, including $2.7 million to its vendor, American Traffic Solutions. Another $2.1 million must be shared with the state, leaving a profit of about $5.4 million, records show.

The program has been controversial among some in the public who complain that the cameras invade their sense of privacy while generating revenue. City and police officials, however, say the program raises awareness of intersection safety. They also argue that automating red-light enforcement allows the understaffed police force to be more productive.

The shrinking figures mirror a similar trend from a six-month period last year with 50 camera locations.

Police saw a 20-percent drop in citations from May to September, to 11,700 a month from 14,800.

The following month saw a spike, though, after police began monitoring 20 alternative approaches to intersections already in the program.


Crackdown on illegal turns
That change came as City Council, following a new state law, required police to cite motorists who turn on red lights without first stopping and yielding to cross traffic.

The result was a record number of citations in October: 27,000. Since then, the average number of monthly citations at the monitored locations has also decreased, to 255 last month from 388 in October.

"If there's a decline, that pretty much says that people aren't running red lights," said Councilwoman Sue Lovell, who chairs a committee that oversees city transportation issues. "We're modifying people's behavior."

While the citation figures show that fewer motorists are breaking the law at monitored intersections, it remains unclear whether the intersections actually are safer.

"The simple fact that the cameras are giving out more citations at intersections, that doesn't mean that Houston is safer," said lawyer Paul Kubosh, a critic who unsuccessfully sued the city over the legality of the red-light camera program.

Researchers from Rice University and the Texas Transportation Institute are conducting a statistical study on accident trends at the monitored sites, but it was unclear when the results will be released.

Kubosh said that study could show that minor accidents actually increased at the intersections as motorists make abrupt stops to avoid citations a dynamic other cities across the country have seen.

"The whole purpose of the cameras is to decrease accidents," he said. "They sold this thing on accident prevention."

Officers who monitor the program say the study should show that accidents have decreased, said Sgt. Darrell Prince, who supervises the program and monitors video.

"Honestly," he said. "I've seen very few accidents
."
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Old 03-27-2008, 07:49 AM   #2
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As extra red-light cams went up, tickets went down
Officials say drivers, knowing they are being watched, have changed habits


crazy, who would've ever thought.
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Old 03-27-2008, 08:11 AM   #3
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I love the cameras, great idea really

always have been carefull not to run a red light and cant tell you how many times Ive seen someone sitting at a light, and just take off because they thought they would get away with it.... and on several occasions seen them crash into some OR hit a pedestrian crossing the street
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Old 03-27-2008, 08:17 AM   #4
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funny how people claim privacy rights when they are brakeing the law. Your not being watched, it only takes a picture if you run the light, in which case you should be fined, dont brake the law and your 'privacy' will not be violated.
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Old 03-27-2008, 08:20 AM   #5
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BTW, malls, banks, gas stations, retail stores, atm's all have cameras that record all the time, so if you feel that stongly about privacy stay home.
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Old 03-27-2008, 08:23 AM   #6
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I think the red light cameras are ok. But I am NOT COOL with speed cameras. With new technology big brother is going to be watching everything we do.
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Old 03-27-2008, 08:24 AM   #7
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Quote:
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I think the red light cameras are ok. But I am NOT COOL with speed cameras. With new technology big brother is going to be watching everything we do.
goto england, they already do.
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Old 03-27-2008, 08:26 AM   #8
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Quote:
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I think the red light cameras are ok. But I am NOT COOL with speed cameras. With new technology big brother is going to be watching everything we do.
big brother my ......we are more like the children of a meannnnn old man.
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Old 03-27-2008, 08:31 AM   #9
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big brother my ......we are more like the children of a meannnnn old man.
LOL right on the money bor.
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Old 03-27-2008, 10:28 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Too late, I always see white box trucks chilling at entrance ramps to the freeways with cameras to capture every license plate that comes through. Hmmmmmm
What is the deal with the license plate camera's. I was watching the news and they were just going around parking lots just to get license plates. What's up with that?
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Old 03-27-2008, 10:32 AM   #11
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Quote:
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Too late, I always see white box trucks chilling at entrance ramps to the freeways with cameras to capture every license plate that comes through. Hmmmmmm
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Old 03-27-2008, 10:37 AM   #12
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Quote:
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Too late, I always see white box trucks chilling at entrance ramps to the freeways with cameras to capture every license plate that comes through. Hmmmmmm
I suspect those are really the "sniffer" units monitoring emissions and air quality instead of speeding.
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Old 03-27-2008, 10:37 AM   #13
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Too late, I always see white box trucks chilling at entrance ramps to the freeways with cameras to capture every license plate that comes through. Hmmmmmm
pretty sure they are measuring air quality (emissions) not taking pictures...
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Old 03-27-2008, 10:38 AM   #14
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does anyone know where all the cameras are located?
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Old 03-27-2008, 10:41 AM   #15
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That's for emissions testing. They put them up on the "outskirts" of town and part of the equipment out there tests the emissions coming out of your tail pipe as you drive by. They set them on the "outskirts" of town for counties that only require safety inspections and no emissions. If you are caught three times with in a certain period of time having too high of emissions, they send you something saying you must get your vehicle emissions tested in harris, or another participating county, if you are coming into houston otherwise you will be fined next time you get caught.
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Old 03-27-2008, 10:42 AM   #16
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The things you learned when you take the class to be a state inspector...
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Old 03-27-2008, 10:42 AM   #17
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seem them on 290/hollister all the time, and thats not the outskirts.
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Old 03-27-2008, 10:49 AM   #18
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seem them on 290/hollister all the time, and thats not the outskirts.
Let me see if I can explain. They set them up in areas where the statistics show people from "non-compliance" counties travel through most. How they get their info, I don't know, but this is what I was told from the "officers" at the state inspectors office.
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Old 03-27-2008, 02:27 PM   #19
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keeps your eyes out for squad cars that have cameras mounted on the roof (2 on roof pointed out at 45 degree and 2 in car front and rear) they read the plates instead of the cop typing them in and if you dont have insurance, tags are out or have warrants they will know. they have at least one in each district already

parking management also uses them to write parking tickets in the city (white truck with camera on either side of back)
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Old 03-27-2008, 02:29 PM   #20
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why worry about, keep everything legit and your good to go. glad they're up and running, they outta be towing people who don't have ins. vs writing them a ticket.
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