There is a long-standing rule in journalism: Follow the money. In this case, the Dallas Morning News notes that the Denton Record-Chronicle and Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported problems with red light cameras in several cities, including findings from Texas A&M University’s Transportation Institute. The bottom-line is that these Orwellian enforcement tools don’t necessarily make roads safer. They change the type of accidents and make cities richer.
In other words, the selling point that closes the sale is greed, for both the companies selling the technology and the cities buying it. Safety, like “national security,” is just one more shibboleth for the governing class to find a way to raise money. Amarillo’ City Council has been adept at this during the last few years. The five-member walk-in-lock-step cabal approved the red light cameras and then expanded the use despite the Texas A&M University Transportation Institute findings. And, they accepted misrepresentations of hearings by the chairwoman of the city’s Transportation Commission on the cell phone ordinance.
Arlington is facing a petition drive that may be successful in killing off the cameras. Other cities, Houston, Lubbock and College Station have already banned them. The odds aren’t good in Amarillo for such action because the City Council made it more difficult to place things on a ballot. Of course, the council did so with the predictable help from those who didn’t bother to understand and voted their own interests.
It is one more case of getting the government we deserve.