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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

A fine program

This isn't exactly the shock of the century:

The number of crashes at Houston intersections with red-light cameras doubled in the first year after their installation, according to a city-financed study released Monday.

But Mayor Bill White argued that the cameras' presence prevented even more collisions and that the study proves the monitoring program is keeping drivers safe.

Critics of the initiative, which mails $75 civil fines to drivers photographed running red lights at 50 intersections, said the study shows that cameras actually cause more crashes and bolsters their argument that the program is more about generating revenue than protecting the public.

If you read the whole story, you see that the study's conclusions are a trifle ambiguous and open to interpretation, which is pretty much the result of most studies of the red-light cameras. What is not in dispute is how lucrative the cameras are -- the ones in Houston have generated more than $20 million in revenue since 2006. No matter how much officials protest that the real issue is traffic safety, it's clear that money is at least as important to them, which is why the issue won't die in Indiana.