PRO: Red-light cameras make safer intersections
By BY DIANNA WRAY
Jan. 30, 2011 at 11:02 p.m.
Updated Jan. 30, 2011 at 7:31 p.m.
The issueIn January 2009,Port Lavaca installed five red-light cameras at three intersections.
The cameras were set up along state Highway 35 at Half League Road, Smith Road and Travis Street intersections, which were deemed to be the busiest, according to a study by Redflex, the company that initially approached the council about red-light cameras and performed the study.
The cameras have been a point of contention within the community, and Carl Baugh, organizer of the Facebook page PL Citizens Against Red-Light Cameras, submitted a petition to change the city charter in early January.
Once the city formally accepts the petition, it will be up to the city council to put the matter to a vote by calling a special election or putting it on the ballot for the May election.
So the question is: Do red-light cameras help or hinder traffic safety?
Port Lavaca resident Gracie Cook believes the red-light cameras in Port Lavaca make people safer.
"I'm very much in favor of them. I just think they need them up there to stop people from going through red lights," Cook said.
Port Lavaca Police Chief John Stewart said he was ambivalent about the red- light cameras when the council first began discussing them.
"This is about safety," Stewart said.
Since seeing them in action, he has come to support the cameras, he said.
Red-light cameras deter motorists from running red lights, keeping everyone safer, he said.
"Bad things happen when people have accidents running red lights," Stewart said, noting that a fatal 2008 wreck was what caused the council to become interested in installing the cameras.
Since the cameras came to town, Stewart said, he has seen fewer accidents at the intersections where they were installed.
Port Lavaca resident Russell Cain has collected his share of tickets since the cameras were installed, but still supports them, he said.
"It slows down traffic, and it saves lives. I've gotten some tickets from those cameras when I was getting used to them, but I adjusted and I think most people have. I'm for the lights. They save lives, and anything that does that is something I'm in favor of," Cain said.