Texas House and Senate pass red light camera ban

Ever slip past a red light then receive a fine in the mail a few weeks later? Well, drivers across Texas can soon say goodbye to those pesky fines for good.

The Texas legislature has voted to ban red light cameras across the state. House Bill 1631 was approved with bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate last week.

Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign the bill into law.     

The city of Houston voted to get rid of those cameras nearly a decade ago, but places like Humble and Sugar Land still have several red light cameras in place.

Sugar Land resident Moby Azhar said he’s relieved to see the cameras go away.

“It's so mechanized. It's only caring if you ran a red light or not. It doesn't care if you ran a red light because an 18-wheeler is going to ram you over or what have you. You need humans to make those decisions. They can’t see the context so until cameras become more intelligent, we should get rid of them,” Azhar said.

“I had the problem where I didn't really run it. I turned right on red and I was fined. And I go ahead and pay the fines because I don't want the hassle, but I’m glad they’re getting rid of them,” Rollins Barry said.  

Sugar Land Assistant Police Chief Scott Schultz traveled to Austin roughly six weeks ago to testify against the bill. Schultz said not only have red light cameras reduced accidents in targeted intersections by 58 percent over the course of a 3-year period, they also free up officers to focus on other crimes.

“It changes the driving behavior of the public when they're violating traffic laws. So what the cameras actually do is they become a deterrent. Running red lights kills people. The ultimate goal is we’re trying to save lives and reduce property damage,” Schultz said.

For drivers getting a ticket, their fines go from $75 from the cameras to $180 if it's issued by police.

“If an officer issues a citation, it goes on your driving record and count against your insurance where if the camera issued the violation, it's a civil penalty that doesn't go on your driving record,” Schultz said.

Texas State Senator Paul Bettencourt co-sponsored the bill. Bettencourt said says the cameras are just a revenue source that don't provide Texans with due process rights.

“There’s been independent studies that consistently conclude that red light cameras do not improve safety and that’s what I think the legislators listened to. Any individual municipality can have their opinion, but the fact of the matter is that the legislature has spoken for the people of Texas and red light cameras have been banned. My prediction is the Governor will sign this into law,” Bettencourt said.