Texas Governor Rick Perry has signed a series of bills that place significant limits on the way that photo enforcement will operate in Texas.
The first bill, which is effective immediately, prohibits municipalities from using speed cameras. Despite this ban, the Texas Department of Transportation is planning on installing its own speed cameras on federally funded highways.
A common challenge to the speed cameras is that they need to be calibrated regularly in order to be accurate.
The second will require municipalities to use warning signs 100 feet in front of any intersection using a ticket camera. However, Texas is doing away with those cameras by September 1, 2009 anyway, so the sign program will be short lived.
Advocates of the red light cameras point to the increased number of tickets written or the increased revenue from the cameras. New York City, for instance, earns as much as $720 million annually from their stoplight cameras.
But many jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia have found that the red light cameras do little to prevent accidents and some, like Virginia have found that the cameras actually increase the number of rear end accidents by almost 140%. Similarly, North Carolina found that rear end collisions increased at intersections with red light cameras at a rate of 10%.
However, it seems that the rear end problem can be counteracted by increasing the length of the yellow light by one second. A study done by the Texas Department of Transportation shows that when this happens, the rate of accidents drops by 35-40%, instead of increasing.
Rear end collisions occur when the car in front decelerates at a greater rate than the car following. Typically, these accidents cause whiplash in the driver and passengers of the car that gets hit, because the passenger’s heads snap back on impact. To avoid rear end collisions, a good rule of thumb is to stay one second behind the car in front of you per ever 10 mph of speed. So, if you’re traveling at 60 mph, you should stay about 6 seconds behind the car in front of you to allow for adequate braking room.