By on April 18, 2009

The Tennessee state Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday voted 9-0 to authorize the use of speed cameras in so-called “work zones” on interstate highways. The vote was unusual in that state Senator Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville) presented his legislation as if it would prohibit the use of speed cameras, even though the actual legislative text has the opposite effect. “The amendment basically just says surveillance cameras shall not be permitted on federal interstate highways,” Burchett explained to the committee. “Except for department of transportation designated work zones.”

The exception grants permission to any local or state governmental entity to deploy speed cameras anywhere on an interstate highway where a sign designates construction work, regardless of whether any workers are actually present. This is not the first time that Burchett, with the support of Committee Chairman Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville), has promoted photo enforcement while saying that he is personally opposed to it. Last year Burchett offered a bill that authorized the widespread use of red light cameras and speed cameras throughout the state. The bill became law on July 1, 2008.

In discussing the freeway camera bill in committee, Senators Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), Ken Yager (R-Harriman) and Doug Jackson (D-Dickson) expressed interest in amending the bill so that it banned speed cameras on state highways, but Burchett and Tracy blocked attempts to change the bill. Tracy said that the issue was “complicated” and that the committee would consider bills addressing the question in the near future.

“Well, point out which lobbyist is opposed,” Jackson said, jokingly.

Next Tuesday, the committee is scheduled to discuss Senate Bill 768 which, as currently written, would strike a blow to the use of red light cameras by requiring photo-enforced intersections to have a yellow time of no less than five seconds. Provisions mandating longer yellows in Georgia and Ohio have eliminated eighty percent of violations in cities that complied with the law. Senate Bill 1502 would have had the same effect before the chairman’s amendment turned the bill into an authorization of work zone cameras.

Tennessee General Assembly 2009
Senate Bill No. 1502 / House Bill No. 1202

By deleting all of the language after the enacting clause and by substituting instead the following:

SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 55-8-198, is amended by adding a new subsection thereto, as follows:

(e) Surveillance cameras shall not be permitted on federal interstate highways except for department of transportation designated work zones.

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.

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11 Comments on “TN Senate Approves Highway Speed Cameras...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Let’s soak the taxpayers…

  • avatar
    VerbalKint

    Democrat or Republican– there is no difference, they are all RepubliCrats. That’s why I started voting “third party”… or as I like to say, for a real second party.

  • avatar
    andrewzela

    amazon for gps speed camera detector.

  • avatar
    ConspicuousLurker

    Revenues are down… time to make everything “safer.” Yes, that’s the ticket!

    Prepare to witness the 30 mile long construction zone without anything but signs to show for it.

    And don’t be surprised if they throw them up six months before they do anything and then they leave them up for six months after the pothole was filled.

  • avatar
    Track Announcer

    You may recall this was tried in Winnipeg, Manitoba with predictable results.
    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/canada-court-throws-out-work-zone-tickets-without-workers/

  • avatar
    GS650G

    When night falls, cameras get nervous. Santa might have to drop a big box present over some cameras out there.

    I don’t live in Tennessee, and now I don’t plan to vacation there either. I’d rather not get a postcard from the state police a month later with an address to mail a check to.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    I have a certain hatred for politicians. I also love what the English have done with their speed cameras. Absolutely fabulous (ABFAB!), a litle petrol plus a tyre or two then presto-chango a fire happens leaving behind a dead speed camera. Sadly the cameras are expensive but so are the tickets being issued because of the cameras.

  • avatar
    slateslate

    lol…I thought Republicans were opposed to the nanny state.

  • avatar
    Fritz

    What with the heavy truck traffic on I40, you’d be lucky to see the signs. Trucks, I mean the real deal, not the 4 wheelers that guys with masculinity issues drive, can mask a lot of scenery. Come to think of it the big butt SUVs and trucklets also are a problem in a crowd.

    Any way, if they really cared about worker safety they’d work on sign visibility. Vehicle sizes shapes and traffic density have made the old sign placement obsolete.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    They did this a few years ago for Illinois work zones. Now they’re discussing doing it on roads in the Chicago and St Louis areas at all times (why not the rest of the state??).

    This one bugs me a bit too, though not as much as speed cameras in general. At least in Illinois you can see the mobile vans from a mile away, you know its coming (I’ve only seen it 2x), and it is required an officer be manning the van, meaning most of the time no van is around.

    The worst though is they have made Illinois work zones 24 hours a day, no workers need be present. The ticket (because its work zone…again, doesn’t matter if workers present) is something like $375 plus court fees. Its un real. I have so much more respect for work zones that say “when workers present”. I pay far more attention and give them the courtesy. By making it 24 hours, they simply make the workers less safe, as people I suspect are more likely to ignore it because the last 12 times they drove thru no workers were around, so why would they be the 13th time?

    Again, this screams money. Work fines are enormous, making speed cameras there probably just about as effective money wise as $100 fines on the rest of the freeway system.

    As far as 6 months before and after the pothole, wouldn’t surprise me. Indiana State Police don’t use speed cameras but they swarm on the strip between Chicago and Michigan, particularly in the summer when everyone is heading to Michigan for weekend get-aways. There is CONSTANT construction here, with 45mph limits and troopers every few miles, almost never with any work or workers around. Just some barriers and maybe an asphalt eater sitting on the side of the road. Max fine I think is $1000. I DETEST ISP for this. Especially when we’ll get busted for 70 in a 55 (in rural Indiana!) but I’ve been passed multiple times by troopers doing 80, then find them waiting on the median a few miles up the road. I want them all to die.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    Man this pisses me off. I don’t have the liberty of boycotting the state like GS650G, I have to drive through Tenn to get to my parents in Kentucky from Georgia.

    ConspicuousLurker sounds like you have been lucky enough not to have driven through Tennessee at least regularly or you would already know half of I-75/I-40 has been a work-zone for the last 10 years with only about 10% of that actually a work-zone with any real construction. The signs almost never come down so you are most of the time in one and don’t even know it sicne there isn’t a single sign of construction, no barrels no equipment, nothing. And I have noticed numerous areas where there is no ‘begin work zone’ sign just all of a sudden signs for doubled fines for being in a work zone or all of a sudden the speed is magically 55 mph. Man this burns me up, I wish there was some way to completely avoid the state. I just know I’m going to get a “thank you for passing through our state, now pay up” ticket in the mail. I just love the 40 pmh work zone around Knoxville where the construction has been finished for YEARS. If you do 40 YOU. ARE. GOING. TO. GET. KILLED. The flow of traffic moves at 70, sometimes 80, you know since it’s a nice newly paved 5 lane highway.

    While I’m at it what the hell is a Volunteer?


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