HOUSTON – Houston became the latest U.S. city to turn off its red-light traffic cameras on Wednesday, less than a month after Los Angeles did the same, in a move that camera opponents said reflects a gradual nationwide trend to abandon the devices.
More than a dozen cities now ban the cameras, as do nine states. In many areas where the cameras have been turned off, opponents argued that the programs simply generated revenue without improving safety. Others said they were a money drain – Los Angeles’ City Council canceled its program because it was losing money – while some argue the cameras were an unlawful invasion of privacy.
Houston residents voted nine months ago to banish the cameras, which photograph vehicles as they run through a red light and send the owner a ticket. After months of legal wrangling, including a federal judge throwing out the election results, the Houston City Council voted Wednesday to end its program – even though canceling the contract could cost the city as much as $25 million.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker and several council members expressed support for the cameras, believing they help save lives, but indicated they wanted to honor “the will of the people.”