Houston civil rights attorney Randall Kallinen says the results of an open records lawsuit against the city shows that red light cameras do not work and that city officials have been misleading the public about their benefits.
In December, a study authored by Rice University political science Professor Bob Stein came out stating that though collisions are on the rise throughout the city, the red light cameras have helped.
"Collisions are going up all over the city," Stein has publicly said, "But red light cameras have held back that increase at approaches where they have been installed."
Kallinen is saying B.S. He says emails, acquired through his open records lawsuit, between Stein and city officials show that accidents on average across the city have actually decreased each year over the past five years, info that seemingly destroys the city's argument that despite a rise in collisions at intersections with red light cameras, the cameras are actually working.
What's more, says Kallinen, is that he believes Stein and city officials knew the red light camera intersections showed a rise in collisions despite an overall decrease in collisions throughout the city, yet publicly defended the money-generating devices anyway.
Kallinen says he's acquired a copy of Stein's initial draft report that shows Stein was aware that the red light cameras were not helping.
"The expected impact of red light cameras on the incidence of crashes and crashes by type was not observed for the first year of the program's operation," Kallinen says Stein concluded in his draft report.
However, Kallinen says that Stein was pressured to take the report back after he had turned it in to the city and re-work the numbers.
Kallinen says he knows, through the records he's obtained, that city officials convinced Stein to omit collisions that occurred 100-feet or more from the intersection and collisions where there was no red light violation, meaning rear-end accidents caused by a motorist slamming on their brakes to avoid running the light and getting a ticket.
Even with these omissions, says Kallinen, the data still showed an increase in the number of accidents at intersections with red light cameras.
"Even when they take all those out," says Kallinen, "the result is they are still going up. And the draft report was even worse, when all throughout the city, everywhere else, on the average accidents are going down."
Kallinen says now that he believes the information clearly shows that red light cameras do not equal safety, he will push for a referendum to vote the red light camera law out of existence.
Stein was not immediately available for comment. We'll let you know if he returns our call. Same goes for the mayor's office.
-- Chris Vogel
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