By Betsy Dolan
Sugar Land Police say that footage from the red light cameras at U.S. 90A and Dairy Ashford show that 25-year old Carlos Ybarra of Alamo, died after he ran a red light and hit a woman driving a Chevy Tahoe. A witness at the scene originally told police that the woman ran the red light. Alcohol is not believed to have been a factor in the crash.
The City of Sugar Land has maintained that red light cameras have reduced accidents by 58% and are an important safety tool at high volume intersections. But Helwig Van Der Grinten (Captain Van), who is leading the charge to eliminate the program, says the December 8 fatality is a good example of how red light cameras don’t save lives.
“Typically this type of accident occurs well into the red light period and these violations are caused by an impaired or distracted driver,” Captain Van wrote in an email to the “Star“. “When a traffic light turns yellow drivers must base a snap stop-or-go decision on where they think they might be when the light changes to red”.
City of Sugar Land spokesman, Doug Adolph says that the police department has several traffic safety enforcement programs designed to encourage drivers to follow traffic laws, including red light cameras.
“Red light cameras are one of the programs that the chief (Doug Brinkley) has identified as a method to reduce side impact crashes that lead to fatalities and serious injury”, said Adolph.
On November 19, Van Der Grinten’s group, the Houston Coalition Against Red Light Cameras, suffered a set back when the Traffic Safety Task Force recommended that the red light program remain with a few modifications. The city council is expected to make a decision on the recommendations after the first of the year.
Captain Van continues to push for the red light camera issue to be put on the ballot and voted on by Sugar Land residents. He has started a legal action fund to raise $5,000 to force the City of Sugar Land to put the issue to a vote. Paul Kubosh, an attorney who was successfully in his fight to ban red light cameras in Houston two years ago, has contributed.