Texas Gubernatorial Candidate Calls for Statewide Ban on Red-Light Cameras

TomPauken.jpg
Tom Pauken for Governor
Imagine you're Tom Pauken. You're running a long-shot gubernatorial primary campaign against Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is better known, better funded and has already been christened "The Gov" by Texas Monthly. How can you possibly elbow your way into the narrow space to Abbott's right?

You do it the old-fashioned way, by striking a populist tone and hammer on vital issues that affect Texans' lives. In other words, you go after red-light cameras, as Pauken did today.

"As governor, I will work to end the use of red-light cameras in Texas," Pauken said, calling upon Greg Abbott to "honor the Republican party's platform on this issue instead of imitating Democrat Wendy Davis' support of cameras."

As demonstrated in cases throughout Texas, fines are being levied against individuals without proof they were driving the vehicle captured on camera. The cameras have been proven to malfunction and ticket innocent people. I have personally experienced both situations.

More importantly, I have seen no evidence that these devices improve safety and they may actually cause drivers to speed through green or yellow lights, or stop suddenly when the light turns yellow. In many cases these cameras are seen by local government officials as simply another revenue source. There are fairer ways to fund municipal government than this dubious use of red-light cameras.

It's true, the Republican platform part. The Texas GOP has been calling for a ban on red-light cameras for several years, because fines are levied "against individuals without proof of their having been the driver of the offending vehicle."

Abbott's position, however, is a bit more nuanced than Pauken makes it out to be. Here's the stand he took on red-light cameras during the first real policy speech of his campaign:

Big brother is not only collecting and selling your information, he is also watching you as you drive through traffic lights. Both the advocates of red-light cameras and detractors have a point. One emphasizes safety, the other privacy. But I believe it should be up to you the people to decide whether red-light cameras are right for your community. So I propose changing Texas law to allow voters the option to repeal red-light camera ordinances by voter-initiated referendum.

Pauken's jab at Davis is also a bit misleading. She was a member of the Fort Worth City Council in 2007 when it voted unanimously to add red-light cameras, but it's hardly a key part of her platform. On her campaign page, Davis touts her focus on such picayune issues as education, the economy and government accountability.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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22 comments
Subnx
Subnx

If you run a red light you should get a ticket. And not being the driver doesn't help much when your vehicle is in an accident and you get sued.

jcwconsult
jcwconsult

Residents who understand the true money grab nature of red light ticket cameras need to support Mr. Pauken for a total ban on the red light camera cash registers.  Allowing votes would be a good improvement, but a total ban would be FAR better.


Some 15 states ban red light and/or speed cameras.  It would be great for Texas to become number 16. Greater safety is almost always available with better engineering than with the predatory pick-pocket ticket cameras.


James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

trek1red
trek1red

Actually, the city of Dallas loses about $750,000 on their red light camera program.  

baytownredlightcamer
baytownredlightcamer

Good for Pauken for standing up against the dangerous and unconstitutional money grab. Hopefully Abbott will follow his lead and support the party platform. The Dallas Observer ought to do a bit of research before calling the jab at Davis for being pro camera misleading. Every vote as a state senator that was about the cameras she sided with the red light camera companies who just so happen to also lobby the Texas senate hard. Not only did she push for and vote for the cameras as a council member but she also pushed to put red light cameras on school buses and blocked a camera ban bill in the senate. Pauken is the first Texas GOP candidate that has stepped out and supported the party platform for a statewide ban.

roo_ster
roo_ster

Wendy "Abortions R Us" Davis is also a red-light camera supporter?  I could forgive her for advocating the wholesale slaughter of the defenseless, but not for supporting the red light camera menace.

A man has to draw a line somewhere.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

I cannot fathom how much money the city of Dallas makes off those things. It must pay the salary for the entire city hall staff. The one at Greenville/Mockingbird and the one at Garland/Buckner virtually never stop blinking. At $75 a person, that is a lot of cash.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

this issue is tearing this country apart.(yawn)

kayo
kayo

Well, I guess it's nice that I agree with Pauken on one topic, but the cynic in me suspects that it is an attention grab, and besides, it's not like he can single-handely get those damn cameras eliminated. He just said he would "work to end the use" of them, which is an easy promise to break.  

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@jcwconsult 

The problem with that is that fines for criminal misconduct are not a "money grab".  They're how we fund the system that catches those criminals.

The problem conservatives have isn't that it's expensive.  It's that it makes them accountable for their own behavior.


bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@trek1red 

Yeah, but it's not about the money.  It's about keeping the roads safe.
Used to be, folks would run a red light in an instant if there wasn't a cop around.
Since the cameras came out, that's CHANGED.

baytownredlightcamer
baytownredlightcamer

@trek1red Actually, no they don't. That's a totally bogus number. If the city was giving an additional $750,000 to the camera vendor on top of the millions they have already given them the district attorney needs to initiate a corruption investigation.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@P1Gunter 

Yeah- but it's a tax on criminals, so decent people don't have to worry about it.


scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@P1Gunter I'm not sure the city makes that  much off them.  After all, they have to pay the firms that administer these, the state takes a chunk too, leaving less for the cities than you'd imagine.  That would be a good UP story, but would require some work beyond regurgitating other news sources

kayo
kayo

@P1Gunter Yes it is, and that's a revenue stream no city is going to give up without a fight.

baytownredlightcamer
baytownredlightcamer

@kayo All we need is to pass a bill through the senate like several other states have done. No he can't do it single handedly but I think the odds are better with a governor that says he wants to ban them than with a governor who stands back and says whatever city wants to put up cameras is OK with him.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@kayo He said he got a ticket(s). That's why he's against them.

That's the standard selfish, hateful, greedy profile.

If it affects me, I'm against it. If it affects you, haha.

jcwconsult
jcwconsult

@bvckvs @jcwconsult    If the traffic lights and the enforcement rules were designed to ticket mostly unsafe drivers, it would not be a money grab - it would be a safety program.

BUT, that is not the case.  Traffic lights are deliberately mis-engineered and the enforcement rules are set up so that most tickets go to safe drivers.  That makes it a vicious and predatory money grab, literally a racket with governments as one of the business partners in the racket, along with the only-for-profit camera companies.

The combined opposition to red light cameras in Michigan from the Police Officers Association of Michigan, the ACLU, a representative of the judges, the Mackinac Center, the Campaign for Liberty and the National Motorists Association successfully blocked new legislation that would have brought the scourge of red light cameras to Michigan.  They thankfully remain illegal to use here.

James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@baytownredlightcamer @kayo 

It's not that simple in the Republican legislature.  To get them to pass it, he'd have to let them use his district as a toxic waste dump or to locate a coal fired power plant there - or some such.

Then, as Republicans do, he would return to his district a failure, but announcing that he'd protected them from that stuff.

baytownredlightcamer
baytownredlightcamer

@Montemalone @kayo Yes, getting subjected to the predatory system that tickets innocent drivers every day is often how those that oppose the cameras get exposed to their abuses so what? Often you don't know people's rights are getting violated until your are. Most people know you don't have to pay the tickets anyway so to suggest this is some way for him to run red lights for free doesn't remotely sound reasonable. 

ruddski
ruddski

Maybe he'll just issue waivers to supporters of red light cams, and himself. Everyone else gets the tickets.

jcwconsult
jcwconsult

@bvckvs @jcwconsult   Sure, it is a clear answer - $$$.

$400 million over about 10 years in Chicago.  $100 million per year in Florida.  $47 million just in Cleveland.  Yellow intervals are set about 1 second too short so drivers trip the red inadvertently by 0.3 or 0.9 seconds and clear the intersections during all red phase with zero risks of crashes.  Slow rolling right on red actions get tickets but only 0.06% of all crashes involve an injury or fatality and a right on red turn of any kind.

In many cases, the engineers know better but the politicians that pay their salaries get the money and require the bad engineering to keep the cash flowing.

Read our website data on the 60% to 90% drop in violation rates with 1 second longer yellows. Then ask yourself why the Florida Department of Transportation changed the rules in July 2011 to allow yellows to be set about 1 second too short. There were $100 million reasons for that change.

James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Associaton

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@jcwconsult @bvckvs 

When you say that people who run red lights are safe drivers, it underscores the reason why we NEED the red lights.

I'm curious about something though- what makes you think that the people who engineer traffic lights are out to persecute good drivers? 

Do you have some knowledge about the industry and the people that you'd care to share?  Or is it just another one of those baseless Libertarian conspiracy theories -like Obama being a Muslim communist Nazi out to take everyone's guns away?

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