At six locations throughout Southlake there are cameras that have their eye on the roads 24 hours a day seven days a week, 365 days a year. They never get tired, they never need to eat, and their sole purpose is to catch drivers doing something that they shouldn’t – run red lights.
“It really is about safety,” said Southlake DPS Director Jim Blagg. “Overall we have seen a decrease in accidents at high-risk intersections, and many of those intersections have red light cameras. If it’s making people slow down, and think twice before they speed through an intersection, then the cameras are accomplishing what we need them to.”
During FY 2010 (October 1, 2009 – September 30, 2010), Southlake DPS – Police Services investigated a total of 622 accidents and of the investigated accidents 67 occurred within an intersection. 38 of the accidents occurred within an intersection where a RED Light Camera had been installed. It has been determined that 89% of all accidents occurring within an intersection were caused by factors other than a driver disregarding a red light.
Since the program’s inception, all potential violations have been reviewed by a licensed peace officer. It is the officer’s duty to determine if a violation occurred, the same way it would if they were patrolling the City’s intersections.
“We want to make sure drivers understand that it’s not just a remote camera deciding who gets a ticket and who doesn’t,” said Police Chief Robert Finn. “More than 60% of the tickets are thrown out by our officers because no violation occurred even though the camera might have caught an action on video.”
Blagg added, “We understand the criticism that some drivers might have about the cameras and while we certainly understand the frustration of getting a ticket, we also want our community to be known as a safe place where people can drive and walk with a certainty for their safety.
Monies collected from fines are divided between the State, the City and Red Flex. The City’s portion (approximately 25% of the total revenue) is required by Texas statute to be used for traffic safety programs. According to the FY 2010 Red Light Camera Enforcement Report issued by Southlake DPS Police Services, the City’s net revenue from cameras totals $289,448.78. The City has used the money to improve crosswalks, improve school zones and install radar signs in areas which have seen drivers going too fast.
“I think everyone can agree that improving safety especially on the roadway is a major concern, said Finn. “Ideally it would be great to see a decrease in the money generated from red light camera tickets, that’s the proof that people really are slowing down and obeying the law.”