By Mayor Adler
There are lots of opinions on red light cameras, but only one fact: Red light cameras save lives.
Crashes have declined by nearly 84% in Austin at intersections with red light cameras since 2008. Moreover, more than 45% of the red light running citations written are issued to people who don’t live in Austin.
Unquestionably, people are alive today in our city because we use red light cameras.
I encourage all members of the Texas Legislature to reject legislation which would ban this life-saving technology or hinder our ability to hold red light runners accountable, including HB 1244, SB 88 and SB 87.
Supporting this deadly legislation sends a message that our state lawmakers not only condone reckless driving behavior, but it also means accepting the fact their decision places our children, mothers, neighbors and friends of Austin at risk of serious injury or death on our roadways.
We are not alone in the success of our red light camera program.
A new analysis on red light running recidivism in Texas shows 86% of drivers caught running a red light by a camera learned their lesson and did not receive another red light camera ticket in that city. According to the Texas Traffic Safety Coalition, 10% of violators received only two citations and just 4% received three or more citations.
A 2016 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study also revealed 1,300 lives were saved in 79 U.S. cities using cameras through 2014. The same study determined cameras contributed to 21% fewer fatal red light running crashes per capita. However, when cameras were turned off, fatal red-light crashes increased by 30% per capita.
If a bill to ban or limit the use of cameras were to pass in Texas, this decision would result in dramatic increases in red light running and crashes. KTRK reported that in Houston where there was a 117% increase in violations and a 30% increase in fatal collisions when cameras went dark.
Facts are what matter when it comes to road safety – and the data is indisputable. Red light cameras are a proven technology which makes law enforcement more effective and our roads safer. They reduce red light running and crashes, change driver behavior and save lives. Legislators who vote to hinder or ban their use put us all at risk.
It undermines the ability of our police department to do our job, and will only lead to more tragic — and fatal — traffic crashes.