Red light cameras in jeopardy with new bill

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AUSTIN (KXAN) —  Some lawmakers want to do away with red light traffic cameras in Texas. But despite protests from law enforcement saying cameras make the road safer, a bill that would eliminate the power of cameras to levy fines passed a Senate panel on Monday.

“There’s real questions about violating the constitutional rights to be confronted by the witness,” said Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood.

He authored the bill and cited a study that cameras do not make the roads safer, and he says they are only used to collect revenue. If it passes, the bill would take effect in September.

Austin is one of 60 cities in Texas that currently use red light cameras. The city currently monitors nine different intersections, and in 2014, the City of Austin caught more than 11,000 drivers running red lights. Around 4,000 of those were caught at the intersection of Interstate 35 and East 11th Street.

“When it comes to driver safety, I think accountability is a big thing,” said Stewart Williams, the injury prevention manager at Dell Children’s Medical Center.

He says too often crash victims go there after T-bone accidents, caused by drivers running red lights.

“If you take that device out of the system, we can expect to see some increase in injuries and severity of injuries,” said Williams.

There’s no fix-all for stopping crashes, but when people know where cameras are, drivers are typically more careful. Five years ago before a traffic camera was posted on 15th Street and I-35, 35 crashes happened at the intersection. Just 15 crashes were recorded there in 2014.

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