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Some Prop 3 action

Campos observed last week that there hasn’t been any action on Prop 3, which is the red light camera referendum. That’s about to change.

The Houston Professional Firefighters Association, a group that represents more than 4,000 firefighters, said it supports red-light cameras.

President Jeff Caynon is urging Houstonians to vote for Proposition 3 on Election Day.

He said red-light cameras are a safety tool that change behaviors and save lives.

Caynon is also featured in a new television commercial in support of red-light cameras. The ad began airing in Houston on Monday.

The endorsement follows the show of support for red-light cameras by another public safety group — the Houston Police Officers’ Association.

Video of the story is here. Has anyone seen one of these ads yet? I wonder if the anti-camera forces will have the resources to put up ads or send out mailers or something.

One thing to note:

Proposition 3 on the November ballot asks voters if red-light cameras should stay up or be removed.

Note the wording on that. Even though Prop 3 is on the ballot because of the efforts of those who want to remove the cameras, a vote FOR Prop 3 is a vote to retain the cameras. A vote AGAINST Prop 3 is a vote to take them down. I had assumed that the ballot language would be correlated to the effort of its petitioners, and that led to me being initially confused when I saw that the Houston GLBT Political Caucus is recommending a FOR vote on Prop 3, since I didn’t think of them as being anti-camera, but I inquired and got the matter cleared up. In another sense, this is more logical – if you want the cameras, vote FOR them; if you don’t, vote AGAINST them. I just wanted to point this out in case anyone else was operating under the same assumption I had been. And just to make things interesting, note that if you live in Baytown, it’s the exact opposite – a FOR vote there is to dump the cameras, an AGAINST vote is to keep them. Isn’t this fun?

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4 Comments

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Marilyn Morehouse, Marilyn Morehouse. Marilyn Morehouse said: Traffic Depot Update Some Prop 3 action – Off the Kuff http://bit.ly/bKukmn #traffic #camera […]

  2. Thanks for pointing that out Charles. The difference is, in Baytown we have a proposed ordinance to ban the cameras. You would have to vote FOR the ordinance to ban the cameras, in Houston the vote is whether or not Houston should continue to use the cameras. In Houston you would have to vote AGAINST the proposal to get rid of the cameras.

  3. John Barclay says:

    I am all for penalizing red light runners, but it seems that red light cameras are more about catching yellow light runners. How many people have received tickets because the tail end of their vehicle was still in the intersection when the red light triggered? I firmly believe that the majority of people who recieve tickets from red light cameras had a yellow light when entering the intersection. Why do politicians always refer to unpaid traffic fines as lost revenue? Red light cameras are more about revenue streams than public safety. If they only targeted true red light runners then I would support them, but its all about the money. Vote against Prop 3.

  4. Memorial Hermann Healthcare System says:

    Houston Red Light Cameras and Proposition 3:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdK-vnDRzFA

    Frequently Asked Questions
    Proposition 3

    Why are Intersection Safety Cameras needed?
    Red-light running is the leading cause of urban crashes. Pedestrians and occupants in other vehicles account for about half of the deaths in red-light running crashes. (Source: http://www.iihs.org/research/qanda/rlr.html)

    Isn’t the main purpose of red light cameras to make money?
    The objective of red light cameras is to improve intersection safety. Fines collected through red light camera violations are used to pay for the installation, operation, administration and maintenance of the photographic enforcement system. A portion of the revenue from the installation over and above costs is required to be directed to the regional trauma account and local traffic safety programs.

    What are the financial costs associated with red-light running?
    According to the Houston Galveston Area Council, the regional cost of red-light running is $225 million annually.

    Are Intersection Safety Cameras an effective way to combat red-light running?
    In May 2010, the Institute of Transportation Engineers Journal published an analysis of more than 20 separate studies that measured the effectiveness of intersection safety cameras. The authors concluded that the cameras “substantially reduce red-light violation rates and; reduce crashes that result from red light-running.”

    Where are Houston’s Intersection Safety Cameras located?
    The Houston Chronicle recently published an informative and interactive map at: http://www.chron.com/mm/ymap/lightcams/

    Are my fellow Houstonians in favor of Intersection Safety Cameras?
    Yes. A poll of 500 likely Houston voters conducted March 1-2, 2010, found that more than 71% of Houstonians believe intersection safety cameras make Houston safer, and two thirds (65%) support the City’s intersection safety camera program. The same poll also found that Intersection Safety Cameras have broad support across political, racial and socioeconomic lines in Houston.

    Can I be denied my legal rights as part of this “automated” program?
    No one accused of running a red light in Houston is denied their legal “due process” or right to appeal, nor are they denied access to an attorney if they want one. They may appeal their citation, in order, to the Houston Police Department, the municipal courts, and the county court system. The Seventh Circuit held that issuing citations to vehicle owners (or lessees) instead of the driver is constitutionally permissible.

    What is considered running a red light?
    Photographic evidence must show the car entering the intersection AFTER the light is red. No citations will be issued for vehicles entering the intersection on a green or yellow light, even if the vehicle is waiting for oncoming traffic to stop before completing a left-hand turn.

    What is the review process?
    Police officers review all potential violations. Officers watch the video of a vehicle running the red light and view the photos showing the light illuminated red both before and after the vehicle enters the intersection. If an officer determines the vehicle ran the red light, the officer verifies that the license plate matches the vehicle and all information is correct before issuing the citation.

    Who benefits from the revenue generated from these programs?
    Texas state law mandates that the fines paid go to fund (1) regional trauma care centers including Ben Taub and Memorial Hermann and (2) HPD traffic safety programs like teen driver safety campaigns, equipment and manpower to fight drunk driving, and school zone speed enforcement.

    Can the City of Houston change the duration of yellow lights to get more violators and make more money?
    No. The State of Texas sets the yellow light time cycle for every intersection in Houston. In the last year, the City went out and reviewed the 70 different “approaches” where intersection safety cameras currently exist, and they found only two such approaches where the yellow light was shorter than the state-mandated time – and those were corrected. They also found 38 approaches where the yellow light cycle was longer than the state standard, thus giving the benefit to the driver.

    How do red light cameras work?
    Red light cameras detect motor vehicles that pass sensors after a traffic signal has turned red. The sensors are connected to computers in high-speed cameras that take photographs of the violation. Depending on the particular technology in use at the intersection, a series of photographs and/or video images show the red light violator before entering the intersection on a red signal, as well as the vehicle’s progression through the intersection. Cameras record information such as date, time, and time elapsed since the beginning of the red signal. Trained law enforcement officials review the photographs, and a violation notice is mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle.

    Where can I find the statute that allows for the installation of red light cameras in Texas?
    Chapter 707 of the Texas Transportation Code establishes procedures for local entities that choose to use cameras to cite owners of vehicles that illegally run red lights. The statute also provides specific processes for implementing a photographic traffic signal enforcement program, imposing a civil penalty and creating a hearing and appeals process.

    What are the requirements for cities wishing to install red light cameras in Texas?
    Section 707.003 of the Texas Transportation Code addresses the installation and operational requirements, including contracting with a vendor, conducting a traffic engineering study, the selection of intersection approaches, the role of a citizens advisory committee and the installation of signs. The traffic engineering study may be conducted by using the sample TxDOT Engineering Analysis template.

    Can red light cameras be installed on Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) roadways or on TxDOT right-of-way?
    Cities may pursue the installation of red light cameras on TxDOT right-of-way through an amendment to the Municipal Maintenance Agreement (MMA). Cities without an executed MMA and counties, however, are not allowed to place the equipment on state right-of-way. Cities with an executed MMA must inform the local TxDOT district office of their intention to install the equipment. TxDOT has the right to review and approve the plans and inspect the installation even though it is a city contractor performing the work.

    What is the format for the before and after crash data reports, as required by Section 707.004 of the Transportation Code, and how are the reports submitted to TxDOT?
    The 18 months of before crash data and annual after crash data reports consist of a web-based reporting system where local jurisdictions enter the crash data for each intersection approach. Reporting requirement instructions have been developed and can be found at the TxDOT website.

    Is there any requirement for the disposition of fines collected through red light cameras?
    Yes. Section 707.008 of the Transportation Code outlines specific requirements for revenue collected through red light cameras. For questions on revenue required to be deposited in the regional trauma account or a local authority’s special account to fund traffic safety programs, contact the state comptrollers office.

    Do cameras photograph every vehicle passing through an intersection?
    No. Cameras are set so that only those vehicles that enter the intersection after the light has turned red are photographed. Vehicles entering the intersection on yellow, and still in the intersection when the light turns red, are not photographed.

    Wouldn’t increasing the length of the yellow signal at an intersection decrease the occurrence of red light running?
    Allowing adequate yellow timing can reduce red light running, but longer yellow time alone does not eliminate the need or potential benefits of red light cameras. Yellow times at signals are determined based on variables such as the posted speed limit, typical deceleration rates of vehicles, the grade of the road, and motorist perception-reaction time.

    Will motorists know which intersections have red light cameras?
    Section 707.004 of the Texas Transportation Code requires that cities install signs along each roadway that leads to an intersection at which a red light camera is in use. Two types of signs are currently available to comply with the new legislation and both are documented in TxDOT’s 2009 Standard Highway Sign Designs for Texas (SHSD) manual.

    The first and most common type of sign is the Photo Enforced symbol sign (designated as R10-19T). This rectangular-shaped sign was developed specifically for the advance notice of photo enforced intersections. Design details of the sign can be found on page 1-178 of the SHSD.

    A second type of sign is the Signal Ahead symbol warning sign (designated as W3-3) with the PHOTO ENFORCED plaque (designated as W16-10) mounted below. The W3-3 warning sign is typically installed when there is limited sight distance on an approach to a signalized intersection. Installation of the W16-10 plaque below an existing W3-3 warning sign would result in compliance with the signing requirements for Red Light Cameras. Design details of the sign and plaque can be found on page 2-31 and 2-134 respectively in the SHSD manual.

    Doesn’t placing signs on the approach to intersections with red light cameras defeat the purpose of installing the cameras?
    No. The purpose of the red light cameras is to improve intersection safety by reducing the number of red light violations. If the advance notice signs stop motorists from running red lights rather than the cameras themselves, then the purpose of this program is being met.

    Can the cameras be used to enforce other types of traffic violations (speed, railroad crossings, etc.)?
    No.

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