Denton activates new traffic cameras
City hopes to catch red-light violators
By Pamela Bond
April 11, 2006
Drivers react one of two ways when they first see a traffic light change from green to yellow at the intersection before them. Either they grip the steering wheel, slam on the brakes and stop just short of the pedestrian walkway, or they push down on the gas and hope to make it to the other side of the road before the light changes again.
However, Denton drivers may want think twice about choosing the latter response next time they face a yellow light.
The city installed and activated cameras at the intersections of Mayhill and Spencer roads and Woodrow Lane and Shady Oaks Drive, April 8, in the hopes of catching people running red lights on tape. The cameras are part of an “effort to enhance traffic safety” by decreasing accidents and making the streets safer, according to Officer Jim Bryan of the Denton Police Department.
“The red light camera technology that we are about to launch in Denton is a fantastic tool that will enhance the ability of our police personnel to enforce laws and keep our citizens safe,” Mayor Euline Brock said.
From April 8 to May 9, violators will receive a warning in the mail. After that, they will receive a snapshot of their offense, a Web site to view the 12-second video clip recorded by these cameras and a $75 civil fine, which will not be evident in driving records or insurance rates.
Denton will also activate two more cameras, at Hickory Street and Bell Avenue, and Carroll Boulevard and Oak Street, before May 10. The city chose these intersections “due to the frequency of accidents and violations, traffic volume, and the difficulty of working the red light violations at the intersection with a uniformed officer,” according to Bryan.
The Scottsdale, Ariz., based company Redflex will operate the cameras and compile the notices of violation. A Denton police officer will confirm the violation before it is sent to a driver.
The cities of Plano, Richardson and Garland have already activated red light cameras at intersections.
Garland, the first city in the area to adopt this program, started using the cameras in September 2003 at four intersections and added another camera one year later. They will implement seven more this summer, according to Public Information Officer Joe Harn of the Garland Police Department.
“Our whole deal was to stop injury wrecks and fatalities at these intersections,” Harn said. “What we saw is a 55 percent drop in people who ran a red light and caused a wreck at those intersections. And to us that was a very big number.”
The Garland Police Department has issued over 64,000 red light violations since first activating the lights. During the first year, the red light violations at the intersections with cameras decreased by 21 percent and the second year, that amount decreased again by another 21 percent. The amount of people who ran red lights at other intersections around the city decreased by 17 percent.
“By no means is it an answer to everything,” Harn said. “It’s not a cure-all, but it’s a good tool to use. And it’s effective enough that we’re putting in more cameras.”
In Garland, after a second offense the fine for running a red light jumps from $75 to $200. Harn said the city allocates all the money to public safety programs, and officials said Denton police will do the same.