POSTED: Friday, May 3, 2013 - 12:02pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 8:04am
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — Crashes in certain El Paso intersections decreased by 55-percent from 2011 to 2012, according to the El Paso Police Department. The device that's making this happen is the controversial red light cameras placed in the busiest streets of the Sun City, police said.
Redd and Resler is the intersection with the most citations issued since the cameras were installed back in 2006. However, while everyone running a red light is caught on camera, not everyone is required to pay the fine.
It's simple, you violate a traffic law and get caught on any one of the 18 cameras in El Paso and you get a ticket. But for the residents we spoke with, the way they feel about these cameras is anything but simple.
"I think they're lame," Alexis Whitehurst of West El Paso told us. Another woman, Raquel Mattison explained, "I believe if they're accurate than I don't have a problem with it," she said.
Elizabeth Longenbaugh had great things to say about the cameras, "I think they're an excellent idea," she said.
Sergeant Glenn Shelley with the El Paso Police Department says the driving force behind these cameras is safety. "The reason for red lights and traffic control signals is to avoid accidents," Sgt. Shelley explained. That means there are number of reasons behind a citation.
One, blocking the intersection when the light turns red. Two, driving your vehicle over the stop line, and three, rolling through a right turn. Whitehurst knew exactly what the third infraction meant, "Yes, that's what my friend got cited for. She just kind of turned," she explained.
So did Longenbaugh, "That's happened to my sons. One of which is currently in law enforcement," the West El Paso resident said.
But there's also a caveat to these cameras. If a vehicle with Mexican license plates commits any of these violations, they don't receive a ticket. That's because, Redflex, the company who makes these cameras says they don't have the capability of issuing the tickets because they don't have a database of Mexican motorists.
"It's unfair because if they come into this country I think it should be expected to abide by the same laws as us going over there to Mexico," Omar Macias, another West El Paso resident exclaimed.
To date, drivers in vehicles with Mexican plates have racked up about $750,000 in unpaid tickets. However, that is less than 10-percent of all the citations in the Sun City since 2006. But some feel if US drivers have to pay the $75 ticket, so should drivers from across the border. "There is no way of holding them accountable. And I think that is something that should change," Macias said.
"I think that if you are in the United States from another country somehow they need to have a way to track your plates," Maggie Rodriguez, a Northeast El Paso driver told us.
Red light traffic cameras may be a source of controversy, but one thing's for sure. For those who receive a ticket, you'll never forget why you received it.
"We're watching the video like 'Oh my God. I can't believe you just went through that. So now, everywhere, every intersection she goes to. Complete stop and then she turns," Whitehurst said.
Even though vehicles with Mexican plates will not be cited if they're caught on camera, police tell us it's a different story if they're caught by an officer - they will receive a ticket.
As for how much money has been collected since 2006 - that number stands at $113 million and counting.