I attended the Texas Supreme Court on Nov. 1 when the red light camera issue was orally argued. I am the white haired gentleman directly behind the speakers in this 44-minute video: http://www.texasbarcle.com/CLE/SCPlayer.asp?sCaseNo=17-0713
The legalese of the discussion was truly mind-boggling. The only thing that was clear to me was a question posed by one of the justices at time 07:50. Apparently this justice is of the opinion that red light camera violations are probably either deliberate or the result of unacceptable carelessness. Attorney Bowman tried to correct the biased nature of this question, but the fact was not driven home that these red light cameras punish vehicle owners for allowing many drivers in Texas to be entrapped by a red light camera for inadvertently violating a red light by a fraction of a second.
There are two underlying issues here. The first is why punish the vehicle owner when he or she may not be the offending driver? The second was punishing the inadvertent violation of the red light law by a fraction of a second. Is this technical violation of the red light reasonable? Automated red light camera enforcement does not permit leniency. No allowance is made for the inability of humans to make a precisely correct stop-or-go decision every time a green traffic light turns yellow. Because the yellow period is loosely defined by the signaling regulations, clairvoyance is required for drivers to know exactly how long the traffic light will remain yellow, whether or not the light will turn red before the vehicle will enter the intersection and what the stopping distance is going to be.
This second question was not addressed during these proceedings, but it is clear that automated enforcement is incapable of taking into account the frailty of human judgment. That is what juries are for and no juries are allowed by the red light camera statutes. Hopefully the Supreme Court will find them unconstitutional. That decision should be rendered within the next six months.
H. F. Van Der Grinten