In the months preceding the November 6, 2018 general election, Republicans and Democrats alike placed banning red-light cameras front and center on the campaign trail, a move that received much praise from voters. So much so, in fact, that Gov. Greg Abbott took the torch and began to lead the charge on the issue.

Now legislation has been filed in the Texas House to get rid of the onerous practice once and for all.

On Tuesday, State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R–Bedford) filed House Bill 1631, a companion bill to legislation filed in the Texas Senate (SB 653) by State Sen. Bob Hall (R–Edgewood), a longtime opponent to red-light cameras.

“The people of Texas have already started rejecting red-light cameras through city bans and lawsuits,” Stickland said. “They’ve had enough. It’s time that we protect the rights of Texans and finally ban red light cameras once-and-for-all.”

Red-light cameras and other photo-enforced traffic devices that issue citations have been described by critics as blatant abridgements of citizens’ rights to due process. The burden of proof is placed upon the defendant, and there is often no legal requirement for cities and municipalities who use these devices to prove who was operating the vehicle at the time of the alleged traffic violation.

Studies conducted on their effectiveness at reducing collisions have suggested their use actually increases the frequency at which accidents occur, as motorists unsafely slam on their brakes to avoid the camera.

In the most egregious cases of their implementation, jurisdictions have gone as far as manipulating traffic light timing at intersections in order to produce a higher number of violations, and thus, increased revenue through fees and fines.

With identical legislation filed in both chambers, bipartisan support, and Abbott having taken up the mantle on the issue, Texans have reason to be more optimistic that legislation makes it to the desk of the governor this session to outlaw unconstitutional red-light camera devices.

Destin Sensky

Destin Sensky serves as a Capitol Correspondent for Texas Scorecard covering the Texas Legislature, working to bring Texans the honest and accurate coverage they need to hold their elected officials in Austin accountable.