I have never been a huge fan of Bastrop. This town has been a major bottleneck most of my life along Highway 71 driving back and forth between my parents’ house and Austin. This minor aggravation recently became more severe when I received a red light ticket. This ticket wasn’t from a police officer. It arrived in the mail from a facility in Arizona.
I had long been warned not to speed in Bastrop because their cops have a reputation for being aggressive to say the least. I’ve tried to abide by these warnings and have never been pulled over in this town, so when I opened a ticket the other day for running a red light on Highway 71, I was quite upset.
Bastrop Red Light Cameras
Obviously, red light cameras are a profit center. Police and city officials tend to argue they are installed for the greater good. Their hypothesis is that enforcement, be it in person or not, increases compliance and in turn safety. This hypothesis is debatable at best.
An Austin American Statesmen shows that accidents at the two intersections with red light cameras in Bastrop actually doubled from 2011 to 2012. These stats aren’t exactly a sign of success if your objective is to increase safety.
Houston has eliminated all their red light cameras after studies showed they lead to a dramatic increase in accidents. Even more importantly, voters said that they didn’t want them.
Intersections with Red Light Cameras
Bastrop currently has two red light cameras.
Texas 71 and Tahitian Drive / Intersection of Texas 95 and Texas 71
Here is an Austin American Statemen article about the installation. American Traffic Solutions is the company that installed the red light cameras for Bastrop and Elgin. Not surprisingly, if you do a search for this company, you will quickly find a string of negative reviews with commonly repeated themes of unethical and license to steal.
Honestly, the fact that a privately held company installs the cameras and gains a share of the revenue is one of the most upsetting aspects. It again reiterates that these cameras are about money and not safety. It is even more upsetting to learn that if a city backs out of its agreement, they likely owe the red light camera company a small fortune. In the case of Houston, the city had to pay American Traffic Solutions 4.8 million dollars after they decided to no longer use the cameras. This strikes me as another absurdity.
The Bastrop camera that ticketed me is at a stop light along a 55 mph stretch of highway. One of the most unjust aspects is the relatively short yellow duration at this light. There is no uniformity at least in the state of Texas how long a light will remain yellow. As a matter of fact, many municipalities have been caught shortening the yellow cycle after installing red light cameras.
Is this what happened in Bastrop? I don’t know, but I would not be surprised in the least. At the end of the day these cameras are only about money plain and simple.
More About American Traffic Solutions
American Traffic Solutions is the company responsible for 40% of the red light camera contracts in America, including the Bastrop contract. Until recently, this company was part of a large corporate lobbying pact known as the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC for short. This corporate lobbying group has come under intense scrutiny of late for handing legislators talking points and written bills intended to line the pockets of corporations at the public’s expense.
- Here is a good NY Times article on ALEC.
- Businessweek article on ALEC.
How You Can Protest
The best way to protest red light cameras in Bastrop is to voice your opposition to the city council. Council members are responsible for approving these Orwellian devices. They are the people who can see them done away with.
Bastrop City Council Email Addresses
- Terry Ore – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Joe Beal – email@example.com
- Ken Kesselus – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Kay McAnally – email@example.com
- Dock Jackson – firstname.lastname@example.org
Favorite Comment From Free Republic
P.S. If you are looking for another great site about red light cameras, I recommend reading Motorist.org.