Red-light cameras on Irving's agenda

Signal runners could be caught by April after tonight's vote

06:17 AM CST on Thursday, January 25, 2007

By ERIC AASEN / The Dallas Morning News

IRVING – The Irving City Council plans to give red-light cameras the green light tonight.

Irving officials are proposing a handful of camera systems to catch red-light runners. The cameras could be up and running in April.

Irving would join a number of other North Texas cities – including Coppell, Dallas, Denton, Garland, Grand Prairie, Plano and Richardson – that have implemented or approved red-light camera programs.

The City Council is to vote tonight on an ordinance that would allow red-light cameras in the city. Several council members said Wednesday that they expect the council to pass the ordinance.

"It's public safety," council member Lewis Patrick said.

Mr. Patrick predicts that red-light cameras will have a desirable side effect on drivers: They will be more aware of their driving habits – and more cautious – as they drive through intersections throughout the city, not just those monitored by red-light cameras.

Once cameras are up and rolling, city officials are considering giving drivers a 30-day grace period before issuing fines that would start at $75. Fines would increase to $150 for the third and subsequent violations within a 12-month period.

But before the cameras go up, the City Council will vote on a vendor to operate them. That vote will probably come next month. The council was briefed Wednesday on vendor options.

Irving officials haven't announced which intersections would be monitored. But city documents show that several intersections rank as "high accident locations," including State Highways 161 and 114; State Highway 183 and Carl Road; Story Road and Irving Boulevard; and MacArthur Boulevard and Shady Grove Road.

Under the proposed ordinance, fines collected from red-light runners would be deposited in a traffic safety fund. The money may be spent on paying for the costs of the automated signal enforcement or public traffic, pedestrian safety programs, traffic enforcement and intersection improvements, according to the ordinance.

"Those who say it's simply a way to raise revenue, the money goes into a public safety fund," Mr. Patrick said.