By Betsy Dolan
The New Territory man who is crusading against Sugar Land’s red light cameras claimed victory this week when a petition with 3,300 signatures was delivered to the City Secretary.
Captain H. F. Van Der Grinten, known as Captain Van, is hoping at least 2,835 of the signatures belong to verified City of Sugar Land voters.
“We aren’t sure how long it will take to validate the signatures but we are hoping this issue will be put on the November ballot,” Captain Van said.
The City of Sugar Land says that extensive studies since 2009 show red light cameras have reduced accidents more than 58% at targeted intersections. The city currently has nine red light cameras, the two newest being recently installed at Highway 90 and Dairy Ashford.
“Red light cameras encourage motorists to stop at red lights, which save lives,” said Doug Adolph, City of Sugar Land spokesman. “(They) also allow police officers to focus on other important efforts, such as special teams that focus on burglaries and other areas of emphasis.”
Captain Van says he is not suggesting that people run red lights but he is skeptical of the city’s claim that red light cameras prevent accidents. He takes issue with three things: the ticket being issued to the car’s owner instead of the driver; the need for a longer yellow light and Captain Van’s assertion that 60% of the tickets are not actually issued to red light runners but to motorists who are making a rolling stop in order to turn right.
“Red light cameras are a revenue scam. They have nothing to do with safety. It is disturbing that the city keeps touting this as a safety issue. There is no real proof that red light cameras save lives and reduce accidents,” Captain Van said.
Adolph says the City of Sugar Land is reviewing the petition that Captain Van submitted and will make a determination of how to move forward.