Law & Disorder
Houston's red-light doublespeak: Meet the "intersection safety" cameras
I don't have a major problem with Houston's red-light cameras. Assumed liability when the owner may not be driving the car is troubling, and some studies show that red-light cameras don't decrease accidents at intersections, but running red lights is dangerous and I support the use of technology to discourage it.
But let's call a spade a spade, shall we? A few bloggers have taken note that in a poll just released by Keep Houston Safe, the cameras are being referred to as the Orwellian "intersection safety cameras" rather than the standard "red-light cameras."
Now I'm not suggesting that the goal of the cameras isn't to increase intersection safety. But they aren't looking for tailgaters, drivers who cut people off, texters or panhandlers who insist on hanging out in the middle of the road. They are trained on one thing: Cars that run red lights.
So why not just call them that? Surely if voters overwhelmingly support them (as the survey results show they do) there's no need for a sterilized name.
Intersection safety sounds like a chapter in driver's ed. The fluffy name makes it sound like a violation will lead to a polite note from HPD, much like the ones my mother put in my lunch during school: "Houston loves you, don't forget to wear your seatbelt and drive safe! Be home by midnight, please."
In reality, a snap from one of these cameras does get a note sent home â€” with a notice to pay $75 or appear in court.
Which is OK. But let's stay away from doubleplusgood.