Austin to add more red light cameras, Governor wants them removed

More red light cameras could be coming to intersections around Austin. 

The decision follows a traffic enforcement audit by the city that claims the cameras help cut down on crashes. That's not something many people want to hear. 

“I don't like them,” said Ted Zachos who is skeptical about how money generated from the cameras is spent. 

According to the audit, there were 145 crashes at nine intersections the year before the cameras were activated. The following three years, those same nine intersections averaged closer to 50 crashes a year, a reduction of almost 75 percent. 

“If there was clear justification they cut down on crashes, that seems like a public benefit, as long as it's just not at the expense of trying to squeeze money in lieu of tax revenue,” said Brett Rebal who has gotten a red light camera ticket in the past. 

Drivers, like Rebal, who have been caught red handed by the cameras, said they are more cautious because of it. 

“It makes me look up to see if I see one when I'm going through a light,” said Elise Trentham, who is in favor of the cameras. 

“I am conscious sometimes when I'm running a red light, or pushing a yellow light, that I might get caught, so there is an incentive there,” Rebal said.  

However, some worry the cameras could actually cause other types of collisions. 

“So what ends up happening sometimes is, in an effort to avoid those traffic tickets, they come to such a quick stop that the person behind them can't stop in time and smashes in behind them,” said Zachos.

The fact that 90 percent of each $75 ticket goes to the camera operator has some people seeing red. 

“So now the question rises, are we doing this for public safety or are we doing this as a money generating experiment?” Zachos said.  

Governor Greg Abbott voiced his feelings about the cameras on Twitter writing, "More and more I think it's time to do away with red light cameras in Texas.”  

“I would question his motivations for that, but I do think they strengthen people's adherence to red lights,” said Rebal.  

“I would rather see them go,” Zachos said.  

There are already nine intersections in Austin that have red light cameras in place. The city is planning to install five more, although, the specific locations have not been identified yet. 

Austin’s red light cameras have generated $170,000 for the Transportation Capital Improvement Program, which focuses on improving traffic safety in the city.