By Kevin M. Smith
Killeen Daily Herald
Proposed legislation is not expected to put the brakes on a project that Killeen officials hope will halt drivers who run red lights.
A public hearing Tuesday will take comments on a bill that the Texas House of Representatives recently passed that would prohibit the use of cameras combined with motion-sensing technology for the purposes of issuing speeding tickets.
In December, the Killeen City Council gave the green light for the police department to proceed with a camera system to catch drivers who go through red lights.
Carroll Smith, Killeen Police Department public information officer, said the police department is in the information-building process. She said the police department is watching Austin to see the results of its pilot program.
The city of Austin plans to put cameras at two intersections: Interstate 35 East Service Road at 11th Street and Interstate 35 West service road at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
"We choose those because they have the most red light-running crashes in the city," said Jennifer Herber, public information officer for the Austin Public Works Department.
Because the intersections belong to the Texas Department of Transportation, the city of Austin is waiting for permission to install the cameras.
Until Austin releases its results, the Killeen Police Department has its project on hold. If the red light camera system is successful, the city expects to catch more drivers who run red lights and deter that activity.
In 2006, 582 citations were issued in Killeen for running a red light. As of the end of April this year, 118 citations had been
issued in Killeen for running a red light. The same time period in 2006, police caught 162.
The city conducted a study of three of its most accident-prone intersections. The study recorded 127 accidents from January through November in 2006 at the intersections of U.S Highway 190 and East Stan Schlueter Loop, Trimmier Road and Fort Hood Street. Side-impact collisions were the most common accidents at those intersections.
The legislation to prohibit issuing speeding tickets with a camera that passed the House and is expected to go to the Senate after a public hearing this week is not intended to carry over to the running red lights issue, according to Dan Sutherland, of Rep. Vicki Truitt's office.
"That bill is expressly for managing the speed limits," Sutherland said.
Truitt, R-Keller, authored the bill.
"We need to draw a line in the sand with the use of technology," Truitt stated in a press release. "If we don't, what's next? Tickets in the mail for not wearing your seat belt, or for an expired inspection sticker?"
Sutherland noted that there are several cities in Texas that currently use the cameras to issue tickets for drivers running red lights, and Truitt does not want those cities to lose the investment they made on that technology.
Contact Kevin M. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7550