Dallas’ City Council voted Wednesday to continue the city’s red-light camera ticketing program with a new seven-year, $17 million contract with American Traffic Solutions, even though studies show red light cameras don’t improve safety.
“Every peer reviewed study that has looked at red light cameras has found they have either done zero or [have] a negative public safety impact,” councilmember Philip Kingston argued against the new red-light camera contract.
Besides being counterproductive to public safety, Kingston said the unpopular ticketing programs put undue financial burden on residents who can least afford it:
“It is an absolute profit grab from the poorest residents of Dallas. Every place in the world where these cameras have been exposed to the public interest through a referendum, they have been shot down,” Kingston said. “If you vote for it, you’re voting to rob poor people.”
Council members Monica Alonzo, Rickey Callahan, Mark Clayton, Jennifer Staubach Gates, Sandy Greyson, Lee Kleinman, Adam McGough, and Adam Medrano voted for the program.
Kingston and Scott Griggs voted no; Erik Wilson, Casey Thomas, Carolyn King Arnold, and Tiffinni Young also voted against the deal because of a lack of black subcontractors.
The council vote may not matter depending on what happens in the Texas Legislature. State Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) introduced a bill that would outlaw red light cameras statewide. SB 88 passed the Senate and awaits consideration in the House. If the statewide ban is enacted, Dallas and other cities will have to dismantle their red-light ticketing programs.
State Sen. Don Huffines (R-Dallas), a co-author of Hall’s bill, issued a statement panning the city’s decision:
Red light cameras are little more than another way to pick drivers’ pockets… If local governments are serious about safety, they will consider more effective and less controversial ways to keep drivers safe. Signal timing and design changes are proven ways to make intersections safer, but cities too often reject those solutions in favor of red light cameras that help fund local government.
In 2015, Arlington residents voted out that city’s red-light camera program by a 19-point margin after successfully petitioning to place the issue on the ballot. Arlington was forced to cancel its contract with American Traffic Solutions due to active citizen engagement.
Kingston called on the council to put the red-light camera issue to Dallas voters, but they chose not to – maybe because they know Dallas residents don’t want red light cameras either.