Jason Stephens | September 15, 2022 | Texas Law
They were the bane of motorists throughout the Lone Star State who hated waiting at red lights: stoplight cameras. These cameras, mounted on utility poles and standing as silent sentries over intersections, would record every speeder and inattentive driver who failed to stop at a red light.
You may have been just a little happy when the Texas Legislature in 2019 banned cities and municipalities from using traffic and red light cameras.
Yet if you have driven through Humble, Amarillo, or Leon Valley within the past few years, you may have been puzzled to see cameras still set up. You might have been even more surprised if you got a ticket.
Red Light Cameras and Traffic Safety
Some proponents of red light cameras claim their vigilance helps promote traffic safety.
Intersections can be particularly dangerous places where a significant number of crashes occur. Some of these crashes occur at considerable speeds as drivers attempt to race through a yellow light. Others are side-impact collisions that can cause serious injuries.
In a 2019 presentation to the City of Amarillo, proponents of traffic light cameras noted how among all monitored intersections, the average number of annual crashes at any given intersection dropped from 11 per year in 2008 to 7 per year in 2017. This may demonstrate that people drive safer when a camera is watching them.
Texas Prohibits Cities from Using Red Light Cameras
In addition to the benefits to public safety, cities liked the revenue that red light cameras could generate. Cities and municipalities depend on fines and fees collected for traffic violations, for example. Red light cameras helped ensure that no offense would go unnoticed and unsanctioned.
Are red light cameras legal in Texas? In 2019, Texas changed course and prohibited the use of traffic signal enforcement devices like red light cameras. The Texas red light camera law, found in Texas Transportation Code Sections 707.020 and 707.021, prohibits local governments from issuing citations or complaints and seeking civil or criminal penalties based on the image from a traffic camera system.
Do you have to pay red light camera tickets in Texas? While a local police officer who sees you run a red light firsthand can still issue you a ticket, that same police officer cannot issue a ticket after reviewing a traffic camera.
The law does more than simply prohibit cities and municipalities from writing tickets based on traffic camera images. Cities are also prohibited from implementing or even operating traffic camera systems on any street that falls within the boundaries of that city.
An Important Exception to the Ban Against Traffic Cameras
If traffic camera systems cannot be used, then it does not make immediate sense why some cities continued to have traffic cameras operate after the 2019 ban went into effect. However, the law did allow cities that contracted with a third party to install and monitor their traffic cameras to continue using them until the expiration of the contract.
Some drivers may still receive a ticket or notice if they run a red light in any of the few cities with operational traffic cameras. However, these cities generally recognize that they are not able to enforce any fine or ticket that you may receive through the mail.
A Final Word About Red Light Cameras in Texas
Red light cameras are no longer a worry for Texas motorists, at least for now. Just because a city cannot issue a ticket or force you to pay a fine if they catch you on camera does not mean you can drive with impunity.
Intersections remain dangerous, and drivers who attempt to rush through them and who cause crashes can still find themselves liable for paying compensation to those they injure.
If you do find yourself involved in a car accident, reach out to an attorney for help. A lawyer can help protect your rights and ensure you’re compensated by those responsible.
Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Fort Worth, TX
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Fort Worth and need legal help, contact our Fort Worth car accident lawyers at Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents to schedule a free consultation.
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Fort Worth, TX 76107