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Grassroots Coalition Petitions Abbott to Help Ban Red Light Cameras

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A statewide coalition of grassroots activists presented a letter to Governor Abbott today, asking him to add a Red Light Camera Ban to his call for the upcoming special session.

Activists Kelly Canon of Tarrant County, and Kelli Cook of Montgomery County hand-delivered the letter to Abbott’s office this morning and posted the video on Facebook.

The letter pointed to the Governor’s own words from his 2013 election, when he compared the cameras to an Orwellian domestic surveillance program, saying:

“Big brother is not only collecting and selling your information,
he is also watching you as you drive through traffic lights.”

They then summarized their petition: “We need your support to ban red light cameras, period.”

Red light cameras represent a serious divide between elected officials and the citizens they represent, demonstrated by the fact that poll after poll shows the cameras to be wildly unpopular, yet the state continues to permit their existence.

In fact, the Republican Party Platform calls for a statewide ban, yet the Republican-controlled legislature has opted not to enact it.

One by one, cities around the state have been banning the cameras because of public outcry and local activism. Houston and Arlington are among the state’s largest cities to ban them.

But local bans aren’t enough for the dozens of big name letter-signers whose number includes former Texas Congressman and Presidential candidate Ron Paul, State Representative Kyle Bierdermann, and Tarrant County Tax Assessor Ron Wright, as well as leaders of local Tea Parties and statewide groups like Campaign for Liberty, Texas Eagle Forum, and Grassroots America.

Activists point to data suggesting that the cameras do not improve public safety. They point to reports that cities like Chicago, IL have been caught shortening yellow light times to increase camera ticket profit. They also complain that the cameras violate the Constitution because you have no ability to face your accuser in court, because your accuser is a machine.

In 2017, SB 87 and SB 88 (both by Sen. Bob Hall) were the two bills that gained any traction at all, and they were both killed in the House.

SB 87 would have removed the teeth from ticket enforcement, and SB 88 was intended to phase the cameras out altogether.

Rep. Geanie Morrison chaired the House’s Transportation Committee, and didn’t bring either one to a public hearing before the deadline.

Camera ban activists have been very public with their calls to replace her in the coming Republican Primary, but no challenger has announced a run for the seat for now.

If you haven’t already, please vote in our poll and let us know if you want the cameras to stay or go!

Do you support a ban on red light cameras?

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  1. Cody Jordan
  2. Kelli Cook
    Kelli Cook

    If the state believes in safer intersections and our constitutional right to an trial by jury. Then yeah! Ban them
    Or does the state just want the money it illegally collects from you for derelict red light camera programs?

  3. Constance Goram-Stanton
  4. Christine Welborn
    Christine Welborn

    YES! I can’t believe that we are even discussing this. It should have happened as soon as these cameras appeared in Texas. They are revenue generation disguised as “safety.”

  5. Reed Mann
  6. Michael Monroe
    1. Byron Schirmbeck
    2. Russell Childers
      Russell Childers

      Ditto! I received one ticket for running a red light, and it was while I was at work and my now ex was driving my truck. Guess who paid the ticket? Lol

  7. Thomas Shuster
    Thomas Shuster

    Personally, I think we need more of them. If we hold bartenders accountable for someone’s choice to drink and drive, I think people need to be held accountable for running red lights. I think it’s rather pathetic that we hold a bartender liable for the choices of others, yet, we ignore the root cause of traffic incidents, the people operating the vehicles.

    1. Byron Schirmbeck
      Byron Schirmbeck

      How do the cameras hold drivers accountable? And why do you say you don’t like red light running but want to expand decriminalizing red light running?

    2. Thomas Shuster
      Thomas Shuster

      I don’t want to decriminalize red light running, not sure where you got that notion. I want more cameras, which will fine people running red lights, ultimately holding them accountable for their crime. We hold bartenders accountable for drunk drivers, but, we can’t even hold the drivers accountable for running red lights.

    3. Aaron Blue
      Aaron Blue

      How about we ban public screwalls that brainwash children instead of teaching them how to think and be respectful.

    4. Byron Schirmbeck
      Byron Schirmbeck

      Thomas Shuster OK then you have no idea what you are talking about. The cameras issue a civil penalty to the owner of the vehicle. It isn’t a criminal offense. So then the owner, not the driver of the vehicle gets a $75 request for payment weeks later in the mail, no arrest warrant for not paying, won’t go on their insurance driving record or credit if they don’t pay and they can’t do a damn thing to make them pay.

      That is what you are pushing for. And yes the cameras decriminalize red light running, that’s how they work, therefore if you want more red light cameras you want red light running to be decriminalized. THAT’S where I get the notion. So again I ask you exactly HOW is the red light camera holding the driver accountable for red light running?

    5. Peter Pesola
      Peter Pesola

      Red light cameras INCREASE accidents at those intersection, not decrease them… not only that, jurisdictions have been shown to shorten yellow light times so that they can increase the number of offenders and revenue generated. They are a fraud as to purpose and should ALL be abolished

    6. Thomas Shuster
      Thomas Shuster

      The cameras do not decriminalize red light running, nor do they not punish the the one who commits it. While I agree, the fine is not a criminal charge, the cameras do not erase the law. Also, the citation includes an image of the person driving, what is done with that is up to the owner of the vehicle. 75 may not seem like much, but, it tends to add up over repeat offensives. I have see no data that shows an increase in accidents, or any that shows decreased timing of lights. I will gladly look at any such data, if you can provide it.

    7. Kelli Cook
      Kelli Cook

      Thomas Shuster you can just throw the tickets in the trash. And most people know that so they don’t care about the dumb cameras

    8. Byron Schirmbeck
      Byron Schirmbeck

      Thomas Shuster you are really embarrassing yourself because you apparently don’t know a damn thing about the SCAMeras, or at least not enough to have an opinion that anyone should listen to.

      Yes the cameras do decriminalize red light running PERIOD. When virtually all tickets in a city for red light running are civil not criminal that decriminalizes red light running. When you put more SCAMeras up the cities actually say they won’t have to patrol those intersections pulling over people for running a red light so they have LESS incentive to pull people over and give them a real criminal ticket.. So explain exactly how that isn’t decriminalizing red light running? I don’t think you can without getting even more over your head in a discussion you are ill prepared to even begin to discuss.

      BS! Texas law specifically prohibits them from photographing the driver. Where are you getting your completely WRONG information from? I have personally reviews HUNDREDS of SCAMera tickets over the years I have been taking them out all over Texas and not one single ticket has EVER contained an image of the driver. The position of the SCAMeras on top of poles makes it impossible for them to photograph the driver.

      How does the $75 add up if they NEVER HAVE TO PAY IT? If you DON’T HAVE TO PAY IT HOW IS IT holding them accountable?

      Again with your moronic statements. Not only do you not know that a camera gives a civil penalty, not only do you not know that they can’t picture the driver, not only do you not know that the tickets are unenforceable, not only do you claim that a decriminalized ticket that you never have to pay is somehow holding someone accountable even if they weren’t actually the driver, but now your “expert” opinion that hasn’t been correct on one single point, NOT ONE, claims there is no evidence supporting the increase in accidents or that cities have shortened yellow lights?

      Why would I have to prove that to you when it is readily available? Widely known and already proven? Why would I invest anymore time in a foolish person who doesn’t know a damn thing about the subject? Tell you what, why don’t you start off by admitting every single thing you have said is completely untrue and you have no idea what you are talking about and I will see if I have time to educate you further. How’s that? And I can start with the thousands of dollars in refunds of tickets I got police departments to issue because they admitted they had illegally short yellow lights.

  8. Tom Rowley Sr
  9. Daniel James Harding
    Daniel James Harding

    I live in Longview,Texas…we had those cameras for ten years because “they reduced accidents” . Our new mayor had the before and after accident data reviewed and found that having the cameras did not reduce accidents at intersections so they were removed. Secondly, the tickets go to an out of state private company and illegally bypasses due process. For these two reasons, in the current form they should ALL be removed from Texas!

    1. Byron Schirmbeck
      Byron Schirmbeck

      they removed them because dedicated grassroots activists pressured them to do so. They didn’t care about increasing accidents before that including when the new mayor was on council and enjoyed the camera profits.

    2. Daniel James Harding
      Daniel James Harding

      Andy Mack (Longview’ s current mayor) finished his term on the city council in 2005…he wasn’t on the council when the cameras contract was signed in 2006. While the cameras were widely unpopular the notion of Grass Roots activists applying pressure seems to be an over statement.

    3. Byron Schirmbeck
      Byron Schirmbeck

      Well then I missed it by a year from memory. Just because you aren’t familiar with all of the work we did behind the scenes doesn’t mean it is an overstatement that the grassroots pressure wasn’t a large factor in the decision.

  10. Cathy Nelson
  11. Juan Deleon Sr.
    Juan Deleon Sr.

    Remove them, they are just money making cameras that the money for they fine you doesn’t go to the city or state it’s a private own business that makes money on all tax the payers money. If they really cared about our safety they would use the cameras to study our streets and make them safe. Not fine you and pocket the money.

  12. Aaron Blue
    Aaron Blue

    Just run the damn things, they already admitted they have no way of enforcing them.

    1. W. Browne

      They do enforce them in our neighborhood. You’re lucky they don’t in yours.

  13. W. Browne

    This is just another example how our elected representatives do not listen to the people that elected them.

  14. Ron Beason
    Ron Beason

    Yes, they are junk, and just a profit maker for corporations!

  15. John B. Cox
  16. Androcules Bennett
    Androcules Bennett

    Absolutely! There’s plenty of evidence that they do not increase safety, and are SOLELY for generating revenue. Town have been busted for reducing the yellow light time to increase the illegal tickets. The threats the third party company makes are illegal in Texas. They can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt who is operating the vehicle, so they write a ticket to a vehicle…..ridiculous!

  17. Scott Key
    Scott Key

    No they should not be banned, texans should not run red lights

    1. Peter Pesola
      Peter Pesola

      Red light cameras INCREASE accidents at those intersection, not decrease them… not only that, jurisdictions have been shown to shorten yellow light times so that they can increase the number of offenders and revenue generated. They are a fraud as to purpose and should ALL be abolished

    2. Byron Schirmbeck
      Byron Schirmbeck

      Of course Texans shouldn’t run red lights, no one should. But what does that have to do with the Dangerous and unconstitutional money grab they call red light cameras? Other than some fools buy into the sales pitch from the camera company that they do something to reduce red light running.

  18. Joseph Longhurst
  19. Rob Paige
    Rob Paige

    I’m still trying to find how it’s even legal in the Constitution?

    1. Kelli Cook
      Kelli Cook

      It’s not! No trial by jury No right to face your accuser

    2. Rob Paige
      Rob Paige

      Kelli Cook yes, we are on the same page <3 God Bless <3

  20. Mitchg Theartist
  21. Marc Allen
  22. Tracy Steinbach
    Tracy Steinbach

    No! They are really helpful for recording accidents.

    1. Byron Schirmbeck
    2. Tracy Steinbach
    3. Lone Star Voice
      Lone Star Voice

      Tracy Steinbach, I think you’re referring to the cameras on top of the light. Those aren’t the ones they’re trying to ban.

    4. Byron Schirmbeck
      Byron Schirmbeck

      Tracy Steinbach You can’t disagree with something that is a known fact. Well, I guess you can, there’s people that don’t believe in gravity I am sure. Since Texas law prohibits them from producing an image for anything other than issuing a civil ticket for red light running as soon as they made a video for use in accident investigations they committed a misdemeanor. Then it couldn’t be used in court since it was illegal evidence. So since it would be a crime to do what you said and it wouldn’t be of any use in court or prosecuting anyone explain exactly how you think they are helpful for investigating accidents?

    5. Byron Schirmbeck
      Byron Schirmbeck

      Here you go, feel free to disagree with established Texas law. Texas Transportation code 707.

      Sec. 707.006. GENERAL SURVEILLANCE PROHIBITED; OFFENSE. (a) A local authority shall operate a photographic traffic control signal enforcement system only for the purpose of detecting a violation or suspected violation of a traffic-control signal.
      (b) A person commits an offense if the person uses a photographic traffic signal enforcement system to produce a recorded image other than in the manner and for the purpose specified by this chapter.
      (c) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

    6. Byron Schirmbeck
      Byron Schirmbeck

      Lone Star Voice There are some video cameras on lights but they actually sense approaching vehicles to delay signal timing based on traffic slows, they don’t make recordings. They are the small ones on the traffic signal arm. There are some surveillance cameras that are near intersections that look like globes. Those can record. That might be what someone is thinking of too.

    7. Tracy Steinbach
      Tracy Steinbach

      Byron Schirmbeck Exactly! If someone runs a red light and hits someone either walking or in vehicle, which is an offense, then such an image is allowed within the statute. Further, it can be used not only to issue a ticket but also as evidence of the violation. My son was hit by an elderly woman who ran a red light and unfortunately the camera was turned off. One second later and she would have killed him. Thankfully she just ripped off the whole front of his car. Then she failed to stop right away! She only stopped because her airbag went off! Had she killed him, it would have been important to have that image because he would not have been able to tell his side of the story! It opened my eyes to the importance of not only having them but also using them. Turning it off was obviously a money-saving effort. Had she killed him it could have been crucial evidence against her.

    8. Byron Schirmbeck
      Byron Schirmbeck

      What do you mean exactly? You don’t even know how to read it when I put it in front of you. Texas Transportation code 707 has NOTHING to do with anything other than issuing a camera ticket in the mail for violating the local city ordinance. You are COMPLETELY ignoring this section of the law “AND FOR THE PURPOSE SPECIFIED IN THIS CHAPTER.” Do you know what that means? 707 doesn’t have anything to do with tickets for accidents or anything remotely like what you are talking about.

      That means only for issuing a civil penalty ticket and mailing it to the owner of the vehicle for violating the city ordinance. Tell me exacly how a ticket mailed to the owner of the vehicle would have helped you?

      If she had hit your son you would never be able to use that footage from the red light cameras to prosecute her. No one can point to any single case that has been prosecuted in Texas from footage they produced illegally from a red light camera. Why? Because the defense would have it thrown out in a heartbeat since it would be illegal. Please, you really should have stuck to what you said earlier “that’s all”.

    9. Tracy Steinbach
      Tracy Steinbach

      Byron Schirmbeck But you just made the case for having them! By recording the violation and issuing a ticket it is prima facie evidence of the violation! The fact that the violation was recorded and a ticket issued is the point!

    10. Byron Schirmbeck
      Byron Schirmbeck

      You can’t really be that daft are you? The violation in the code is running the light (civil offense). The violation you are talking about keeping the cameras for is investigating accidents. Since you can only use the cameras to mail the OWNER of the vehicle a $75 ticket for their car being parked in an intersection and using it for ANYTHING else other than that is a crime then how exactly would it help investigate accidents? You can’t prove who was driving, you can’t use it in court or for insurance purposes, you can’t prosecute someone criminally or civily for it for damages or injuries so what on earth are you talking about or are you just continuing to be silly?

    11. Tracy Steinbach
      Tracy Steinbach

      Byron Schirmbeck That’s not true. The insurance companies are able to use those images. Also, the ticket is mailed to the owner of the car registration of the vehicle that ran a red light. Included in the letter is a link to the video showing the violation.

    12. Byron Schirmbeck
      Byron Schirmbeck

      You seem to think that the camera ticketing the owner of the vehicle in the violation with a civil ticket is exactly the same as a cop issuing a driver on the scene a criminal ticket for running a red light and causing an accident. That’s the root of your problem understanding why your position is completely and utterly wrong.

    13. Byron Schirmbeck
      Byron Schirmbeck

      Tracy Steinbach Give me one example of an insurance company using a Texas red light camera ticket for anything. You can’t because it doesn’t happen.

    14. Tracy Steinbach
      Tracy Steinbach

      Byron Schirmbeck All I can tell you is that in my son’s case the insurance company wanted any such video if it existed. Presumably they could get a subpoena for it if it was necessary if there was some sort of court case. If I had been issued such a letter for a violation then presumably I could merely allow someone else to view it by giving them the info to view it online. There is nothing in the statute that says the image itself once made for the legal purpose cannot be used as evidence in litigation pertaining to the violation.

    15. Byron Schirmbeck
      Byron Schirmbeck

      Oh I see you edited your post again. Yes, we finally agree the owner of the vehicle that ran the red light gets a civil notice of violation in the mail and a link of a video for them to watch. Congrats, you finally said something that was true. So how does the owner of the vehicle who may not have been driving the vehicle that hit you weeks later with a link to a video that they watch that you and your insurance company can’t watch do anything to help you and your insurance company?

    16. Byron Schirmbeck
      Byron Schirmbeck

      You presume things that are incorrect. The insurance company may have wanted it to decide if they were going to defend him or not or pay out or not. Yes, if you ran the red light and hit someone you could give that link to anyone who wanted it. So let’s sum it up. You can’t point to one single example anywhere in Texas where the red light cameras have been used by any insurance company for any court case anywhere at anytime but you think they are great for that? With millions and millions of dollars in tickets issued in Texas every year you would think that if this was sucha valuable tool there would be at least one example of what you are talking about and the benefits of it. Guess it isn’t that valuable of a tool now is it?

    17. Tracy Steinbach
      Tracy Steinbach

      Byron Schirmbeck The point of having them is to help prevent accidents. The fact that municipalities make money off them is a consequence, not the primary purpose. Neither of us would have access to any information about cases in which these videos have been used. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I know there was a case here in Plano in which a driver from out of town who was a seizure patient had a seizure while driving and caused a fatality at an intersection when he struck the curb at high speed and went airborne coming down on a family van at a major intersection. It was caught on camera and I remember that it was used during his trial. He was sentenced to a lengthy jail term for killing the family in the van. So, that’s one case I could point to.

    18. Jim Ferguson
      Jim Ferguson

      The are good for documenting natural disasters and historical events.
      They can be used for civil defense and security purposes.

    19. Byron Schirmbeck
      Byron Schirmbeck

      Tracy Steinbach No, the point is and ALWAYS has been the money. How do we know that? Because even when the cities see the proof that accidents are not going down or are increasing at camera locations they make excuses to keep the cameras or lie about the data. But when revenues start to drop because people get the word out you don’t have to pay the ticket and there are millions in unpaid SCAMera tickets all of the sudden they don’t renew the contracts again and finally tell the truth that the SCAMeras weren’t working. This just happened in the last few months in Round Rock and Corpus Christi where they shut down the SCAMera programs and said they haven’t reduced accidents.

      The system is sold as a revenue program it is installed and run as a revenue program and “safety” is only the cover story. You haven’t referenced anything I can find that says they used SCAMera footage in the case you are talking about. Why would they need it anyway? The guy didn’t flee the scene, the camera couldn’t tell if he had a seizure or not, there were likely several witnesses that could describe what happened. And that’s assuming you can show me something that proves it was a red light SCAMera video and not some other video like city surveillance or transtar cameras.

      I have had conversations with police officers who were frustrated that they couldn’t go produce red light camera footage to prove if a murder suspect was in the area of a murder because it was illegal to do so and the evidence wouldn’t be admissible in court in prosecution. So good cops know they can’t use it even in the worst situation of murder but you just keep on thinking that they can legally use them to prosecute someone for something related to a traffic accident.

      And if what you say is true every ambulance chaser would be lined up around the block trying to get their hands on the information, we would see red light camera footage on TV almost every night showing car jackings, shootings, robberies, crazy accidents and other activities. And with around 40 cities using them in hundreds of intersections we don’t see that. IEven if someone could find an example somewhere of the PD using them illegally in a situation, it doesn’t mean it isn’t against the law. The fact that you don’t see dozens and dozens of examples that you can point to in Texas is because it is widely know what you are claiming is a benefit of the cameras is illegal.

    20. Byron Schirmbeck
      Byron Schirmbeck

      Jim Ferguson Show me an example of the red light cameras in Texas being used as you claim in a natural disaster or “civil defense”

  23. David Brown
  24. Steve Crance
  25. Beth Rosin
  26. Gary Rhodes
    Gary Rhodes

    I was thinking the State of Texas had already banned them.

  27. Jim Ferguson
    Jim Ferguson

    I think the State should ban children from becoming transgender

  28. Kenneth Grant
  29. Ronny Dunn
  30. Richard Sanders
  31. Lynette Lucas
    Lynette Lucas

    I say yes! Less government regulation, less spending, lower taxes, more jobs, and less control the better.

  32. Byron Schirmbeck
  33. Ceci Matthews
  34. Manny Raneri
    Manny Raneri

    I think that red light cameras are a good thing. I think that people that break the law and go through red lights should be ticketed as they are threatening life and property by their utter stupidity.

  35. Mary Stallings
  36. DeAnna Nelson-Giesick
  37. Andy Holloway
  38. Ann Lieber
  39. Connie Carpenter
  40. William Buck Hofmann
  41. Ralph Severe
    Ralph Severe

    anyone who supports these cameras support socialism and the BIG BROTHER agenda.. the State of Texas.. ranked 28th on the personal freedom scale, needs to get out of my life and the lives of other Texans.. no Gov should have their hand in our pockets or noose around our necks.. this is why Texas is ranked 28th out of the 50 states on personal freedom..

  42. Pam White
  43. Ken Worth
    Ken Worth

    They are the cause of a lot of rear end collisions. You basically have two choices get a ticket or get rear ended.

  44. Juanita Duell
  45. John Boyce
    John Boyce

    No. It’s a public thoroughfare.
    Why, are you trying to get away with breaking the law?

  46. Phyllis Taylor
  47. Don Ahlgren
    Don Ahlgren

    My wife and I were suspended in our car after it was t-boned and flipped over by a red light runner. Thank God our injuries were relatively minor. Put cameras at EVERY intersection.

  48. James C. Walker

    Texas residents need to call and write their state Representatives, Senators, and the Governor to politely but clearly insist that legislation to totally ban traffic enforcement cameras becomes law. Let each official know you find the cameras to be unacceptable and that complete removal is the only acceptable solution.

    Also, residents in cities that use the cameras need to go to every public meeting and have at least one person speak against the cameras and politely but clearly insist that they be taken down. Don’t stop until they are gone.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

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