NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 29, 2007

Dallas-area motorists may be among the most photographed in the nation as local cities over the last 18 months have installed nearly 150 cameras designed to catch red-light runners.

  • In the four years since Garland became the first Texas city to use the cameras, nearly 20 local communities have followed suit with the aim of making intersections safer.
  • At least seven more, including Fort Worth, plan to set up cameras soon.
  • So by early next year, there will be more than 200 cameras watching North Texas intersections -- double the number in New York City.
  • Dallas, with 60 cameras, has nearly twice as many as Los Angeles.

But as the push for red-light cameras continues, area cities are bracing for significant changes in Texas law starting Saturday that will divert to the state some of the fees collected from violators.  Other alterations to the law, local officials say, could hinder municipalities from penalizing motorists who fail to pay their fines.

The rules:

  • Caps civil fines for red-light camera violations at $75.
  • Allows cities to use red-light camera revenue to purchase, install and operate cameras but requires that any leftover profits be split 50/50 with the state.
  • Allows cities to spend profits only on public safety and traffic programs, while the state's profits go to trauma care in the region where the money was collected.
  • Prohibits cities with newly established red-light camera programs from reporting unpaid violations to credit bureaus. Instead, those cities can work with state and county officials to block car registrations for people who don't pay their tickets.*
  • Requires studies before and after installation of red-light cameras to gauge whether cameras are necessary and effective.
  • Cities that signed contracts for their red-light camera programs before Saturday can continue to report unpaid tickets to credit bureaus.

Source: Theodore Kim, "As red-light camera trend picks up, law set to change; Cities say violations down, but revenue too; now state to get a cut," Dallas Morning News, August 29, 2007.


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues