Austin turns off red light traffic cameras

The City of Austin turned off red light cameras Tuesday after Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill banning them in the state. 

“I'm not a big fan of them,” said Quent Rygaard, who lives in Austin. 

Neither are the majority of state lawmakers. In fact, red light traffic cameras had many in the legislature seeing red.

“There's a lot of reasons we want to get rid of red light cameras. Number one, privacy concerns. We think that the right to due process matters. You have the right to face your accuser in court,” said state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, who authored the bill. 

House Bill 1631 gained enough support in both chambers that with the governor's signature Saturday, red light traffic cameras were immediately banned in almost all Texas cities. 

The city made their move to take the cameras out of the picture Tuesday. 

"The city has directed our vendor to cease red light camera enforcement. Any traffic ticket photos taken after June 1, 2019 shall be null and void," it said in a statement. 

Municipal court data shows that from October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018, about 13,500 red light camera tickets were issued in Austin. During that same time, Austin police cited just under 3,000 drivers for running a red light. 

Drivers said that could be because the cameras leave no room to explain why they drove through a red light. 

“Maybe we passed the red light on an accident. At least let us slide on certain things, more for my money and my pockets,” said Chris Isom, who also lives in Austin.

The Austin Police Department said the cameras have made a difference at ten dangerous intersections around the city. 

“They stop me from running red lights, yeah,” Rygaard said.

“They're still going to go through them whether there's cameras or not,” said Daniel Martinez, a native Austinite. 

The police department released a statement that reads,

The law does allow cities to continue using red light cameras for the length of their contract as long as there is no clause in the contract stating it can be terminated by a conflicting state law. Stickland said he believes only two cities fall under that category.