Despite a state legislator’s opposition, the Houston City Council has approved a controversial ordinance allowing the city to issue civil citations to the owners of vehicles that are videotaped running red lights, the Houston Chronicle says. Houston Police Sgt. C.J. Klausner said that “since 2000, Houston every year has experienced double-digit deaths involving red lights, issued 10,000 to 20,000 citations and investigated about 5,000 crashes a year.” He added that, “Cities across the country have instituted red-light cameras and have seen 33 percent to 70 percent drops in fatalities and red-light runners.”
Houston would join more than 100 cities in 20 states – including the nation’s three largest cities, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago – that use cameras to catch red-light violators. Because of long-standing opposition by the Texas Legislature and a 2002 opinion by then-state Attorney General John Cornyn, only one Texas city uses the cameras. State Rep. Gary Elkins of Houston, who led opposition to cameras last year, has said there would be “overwhelming support” in the 2005 session to prohibit Texas cities from using cameras for traffic-light enforcement.