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Texas House bill aims to ban red light cameras

If House Bill 1631 is passed, it will go into effect on September 1.

AUSTIN, Texas — A House bill that would ban red light cameras in Texas got its first green light this week after it was cleared through the state legislature's Transportation Committee. 

House Bill 1631 (HB 1631) proposes a ban on the cameras, as well as making it illegal for authorities to "issue a civil or criminal charge or citation for an offense or violation based on a recorded image produced by a photographic traffic signal enforcement system."

The bill hasn't been officially passed yet. There's more debate ahead in the legislature. But, if it gets approved, it would take effect on September 1. 

RELATED: Red lights cameras in Austin may soon be no more

Right now, getting caught on camera running a red light in Texas will get you a $75 ticket. 

Red light cameras were installed at the following Austin intersections in 2009:

  • 11th Street and I-35 (EB)
  • MoPac Expressway at Highway 290 (EB) 
  • I-35 and 11th Street (NB)
  • I-35 SB Frontage and 15th Street (SB)
  • EB Ben White Blvd. and Lamar Blvd. (EB)
  • Howard Lane and Burnet Road (EB)
  • I-35 and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (WB)
  • Burnet Road and Wells Branch Pkwy. (NB)
  • S/B Pleasant Valley Road and Riverside Drive (SB)
  • WB Ben White Blvd. and Lamar Blvd. (WB)

According to a fact sheet, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that two people died every day in red-light-running crashes in the U.S. in 2015. 

In addition, a 2012 study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that, "right angle red light running crashes" decreased by 24% at intersections with red light safety cameras. 

RELATED: FM 973 crash kills one after truck runs red light, Austin police say

RELATED: Police investigating traffic fatality on South FM 973

Sergeant Mike Barger with the Austin Police Department said the city's 10 red light cameras have reduced crashes by my more than 40% at those intersections since 2013.

But the author of the bill, State Representative Jonathan Stickland, told KVUE in March, "I would disagree with the data. I think they're picking and choosing what they want to report and make it fill a certain narrative."

In fact, Rep. Stickland said other data shows the red light cameras don't make an impact. 

"We've got enough data that shows the cameras actually do not increase safety," Rep. Stickland said.

RELATED: Alleged drunk driver runs red light, kills man in East Austin crash, police say

Some Austinites agree that the cameras should go.

"It's certainly effective in getting citizens through fines but it doesn't seem to effectively reduce crashes," Ian Present said. "But is there also an increase in them not wanting to get a second ticket, stopping really short and then getting rear-ended?"

Others said that the cameras can be effective at certain crowded stoplights. 

"They, I guess, you know, catch people who violate that red light. So, of course, people who do that, you know, they're being unsafe," Ivan Baker said. 

Overall, Austinites said they just want to see the roads safer.

"Who isn't an advocate for safe driving, you know?" Present said. "You don't want people driving drunk, while tired, driving recklessly."

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