Sugar Land City Council to revisit red light camera issue next month
By Betsy Dolan
At a workshop January 28, the city council was updated on four proposed modifications to the program that were recommended in November after a citizen-appointed task force studied the issue.
Those changes included whether the addition of one-second to the yellow light length time would improve safety; evaluating signage to better inform drivers; review current fine assessment and to review the current wording in the “notice of violation” to make sure it is accurate and non-threatening.
Sugar Land’s Police Department has been studying the changes and was given 45 days to present their findings. The city council did not take any action at the workshop but the matter will be brought up again at the March 4 regular meeting.
Chief of Police Doug Brinkley told the council that a traffic engineering study is being done to look a the feasibility of increasing the yellow light time by one second and to improve the signage to reduce the number of violations committed by out-of-town drivers which was acknowledged to be 70%.
The city is also investigating whether the wording on the red light violation notices is too vague and misleading. Right now the tickets warn drivers that their vehicle registration may be blocked if the fine is not paid. The city is considering whether to block vehicle registrations if red light camera fines are not paid.
Mayor James Thompson told the group that he is less concerned over the amount of tickets issued and how much money is collected and would prefer to know whether the program increases traffic safety.
“I’ve asked before if I can stand at a pedestrian crosswalk in Austin and it counts down 10 to 1 when I can walk (across the street), why don’t we put timers on these street lights so the driver can see there is absolutely no question when that light is going to turn red,” Thompson said.
H.F. Van der Grinten, with the Houston Coalition Against Red Light Cameras said the city’s position that the red light cameras save lives and reduce accidents is incorrect.
“We take the view that red light cameras in Sugar Land mostly provide punishment for the crime of not being clairvoyant”, Van der Grinten said. “They are tools of entrapment and the way fines are administered is extortion”.
Van der Grinten continues to push for Sugar Land voters to decide the fate of the city’s red light camera program.
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