Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1361 into law June 1, resulting in the termination of red-light camera programs across the state. The bill forbids “the use of photographic traffic signal enforcement systems.”
Red-light cameras take images of vehicles entering an intersection during red lights, and law enforcement officers review the images to determine if a driver illegally ran a red light. Fines are then issued through the mail as necessary. The cameras in Jersey Village were being installed along Hwy. 290 on Jones Road, West Road, Senate Avenue, FM 529 and Beltway 8 facing various directions.
The law that passed allows cities that already have contracts in place to continue using red-light cameras until those contracts are finished. However, Bleess said the city would not be reinstalling the cameras. There is a clause in the city’s contract that allows for termination based on adverse legislation, he said, so the city has no financial obligations to the company installing the cameras.
The cameras have not been functional for years, Bleess said; they were installed between 2008 and 2011, then removed in 2013 to facilitate work on a Hwy. 290 widening project. When they were operating, law enforcement officers were hired to review the footage, but the city’s police force has since been downsized accordingly, Bleess said.
Jersey Village Police Chief Eric Foerster said in December that, according to data collected by the Texas Department of Transportation and the Jersey Village Police Department, there was a steady decrease in accidents from 2010 to 2013 at intersections with red-light cameras. The question of red-light cameras was posed to Jersey Village residents as a referendum in 2016, and Bleess said residents approved their use almost two to one.
“We did see a decrease in accidents, so public safety is the only reason why we installed them in the first place,” Bleess said.