The city council of a Texas town has thwarted a move by citizens to put the city’s continued use of red light cameras up for a vote.
A citizen's group led by retired U.S. Navy Reserve Helwig Van Der Grinten filed a petition with 3,000 signatures to have the cameras put on the November ballot, but the Sugar Land city council cited technicalities and toss out that petition. The Houston Coalition Against Red Light Cameras has vowed to keep up the fight.
“Those technicalities are petty and dubious,” Van Der Grinten said.
Sugar Land officials said the petition was invalid because it did not include names and addresses of the five-member committee of petitioners and was not accompanied by an affidavit. City officials also claimed the petition was not submitted within five days of the initial petition date.
“We have attorneys examining the legality of the city’s stand on this," Van Der Grinten said. "In the meantime, I am putting the word out to the people of Sugar Land that they should contact their council members to request that they go ahead and put the question on the ballot on their own authority. They have the authority to do that.”
Van Der Grinten, 73, is against the cameras because of safety issues, not because he has racked up a ton of tickets, Fox News reported. He says he has never received one of the $75 citations.
“The cameras, as they’re operating, turn the traffic light into a guessing game because when the light turns yellow, the driver is forced into a snap decision,” he said. “And if he or she guesses wrong and goes through the light, they get a ticket. If they stop, it increases the risk of being rear-ended.”
City spokesperson, Doug Adolph, said accidents have been reduced by 58 percent since the cameras were installed in 2008.
“We believe that it’s an effective and efficient use of technology to make our intersections safer,” he said.
Houston, which is nearby, got rid of its red light camera program in August 2012. Van Der Grinten hopes that Sugar Land will soon follow in the larger city’s footsteps.
“Sugar Land jumped on the bandwagon and they still have their cameras running,” he said. “It is purely revenue-inspired law enforcement and it has no effect on reducing the number of accidents.”