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Red Light Cameras

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Traffic light showing red light 'stop' light
William Andrew/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Pros

The SafeLight Program will prevent accidents, injuries, and deaths. In the United States, 218,000 traffic collisions occur due to people running red lights. Nearly 900 people are killed annually.

The red light cameras are automated, so they will reduce manpower used writing traffic citations.

The revenue these cameras will bring in is significant. The only people who will be charged are those who are breaking the law, so it's fair. This money can be used for other public safety ventures, such as hiring more police officers. Dallas is number one in the nation in crime.

Cons

To a lot of people, this looks like a money-making venture. Dallas expects the city to make $12 million from the cameras this year.

The penalties differ from camera and cop. If a police officer stops a red light runner and writes a ticket, the fine is criminal and goes on the insurance record of the offender. If the camera issues the citation, the fine is civil and no insurance penalty occurs.

Invasion of privacy (“Big Brother”). Many critics cite the “slippery slope” argument: If a city has the right to watch us and photograph us as we drive through red lights, then why not cameras everywhere, watching us in our daily lives, citing us for anything that is or might ever be an infraction?

Where It Stands

Senate Bill 125, filed 29 Nov 2006 by Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas), removes a city's financial incentive to run the cameras by sending money made by the system to the state to be used in a emergency and trauma fund, minus the expenses associated with running the red light camera system, which include costs of hardware, software, paperwork, human labor, and review of disputed cases by police and courts.

House Bill 55, filed 13 Nov 2006 by Rep. Carl Isett (R-Lubbock), prohibits a city from installing red light cameras on highways that fall under a city's jurisdiction. Since highways are typically the busiest roads, highways show the most potential as money-makers under the red light camera system. Again, this removes much of the financial incentive for a city to install red light cameras.

The City of Dallas intends to fight the attempts by legislators to send the money from the SafeLight Program to the State of Texas. Contact them to let them know your thoughts on this issue.
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