Tennessee Tackles Traffic Cameras Again

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper
tennessee tackles traffic cameras again

The Tennessee General Assembly, which in past sessions has endorsed the use of speed cameras and red light cameras, is preparing once more to either expand or restrict their use. Bills introduced earlier this month provide the foundation for action that frequently takes a different turn after committee consideration.

Lobbyists for municipalities that use automated ticketing machines have a strong hold over the General Assembly and its committees. In 2008, municipalities joined forces with the camera industry to push through a measure authorizing photo ticketing. To deal with vocal opponents to the idea, then-state Senator Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville) drafted the bill in such a way that its wording appeared to be a ban on cameras. Similarly, attempts at placing limitations on camera use last year were watered down in the committee process to the point where the remaining “limits” merely reflected existing practices.

November’s elections, however, brought new members to the legislature. State Senator Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) has replaced Burchett who was elected mayor of Knox County. Campfield takes a dimmer view on the use of automated enforcement, referring to the devices on his blog as “revenue cameras.” His legislation, Senate Bill 54, would strike at Burchett by denying his jurisdiction, and only his jurisdiction, of the ability to issue right-turn tickets with cameras. This type of citation is the primary source of income for photo ticketing systems in the area. State Representative Ryan A. Haynes (R-Knoxville) added his own loophole-free proposal to ban speed cameras.

“No traffic citation for a violation of a speed limit… may be issued that is based solely upon evidence obtained from a traffic surveillance camera for the enforcement or monitoring of traffic violations,” House Bill 61 states. “This act shall take effect July 1, 2011, the public welfare requiring it.”

Other proposals are more favorable to camera use. State Representative John Ragan (R-Anderson County) introduced a measure directing 95 percent of revenue from red light camera and speed camera systems into the educational fund of the municipal budget. This shift in funding mechanisms would result in no net change in income for a municipality that chooses to use cameras. Haynes also introduced House Bill 64 which would allow drivers to yield when making a right turn on red anywhere in the state.

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

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  • SexCpotatoes SexCpotatoes on Jan 24, 2011

    YES!!! We'll put the money into EDUCATION! No one can argue with that! Until you find out that it's a cash grab like when the State of Ohio got the Lottery approved. $20 Million for the schools translates directly in $20 million in state education funding shifted away from school funding. Bare minimum they have to have an amendment stating the monies collected by RLC will go explicitly above and beyond normal school operating costs.

    • Toad Toad on Jan 24, 2011

      If 95% of the ticket revenue goes to education, the remaining 5% is not nearly enough to support the camera vendor let alone provide meaningful revenue to the municipality: this effectively kills speed and red light camera programs before they can get started. The added bonus is that the camera vendors and their supporters are forced to claim that they deserve the money more than "the children." Nice political jujitsu.

  • CarPerson CarPerson on Jan 24, 2011
    Answer this question first: Do you want to reduce the number of crashes or take pictures of crashes? Presuming you want fewer crashes, properly setting the yellow light times achieves that. To set the yellow lights properly, enact the following legislation. You will discover, like many, it reduces avoidance maneuvers, crashes, deaths, injuries, and property damage. 1. One second shall be added to all calculated results. Further, if the resultant value is less than 4.00 seconds, the value shall be increased to 4.00 seconds. 2. A minimum of 0.50 seconds shall be added to the final calculated or mandated value to arrive at the value to enter into the traffic controller. Further, whenever analysis of the traffic controller system circuitry up to the 90% illumination of the light indicates a circuit delay greater than 0.50s, the higher value at the 90% confidence level shall be used. 3. Red light violation citations shall not be issued for infractions less than 1.0 seconds.

    • George B George B on Jan 24, 2011

      In some intersections the main source of red light camera revenue is drivers who fail to stop behind the line before making a right turn on red. Former city council member for Duncanville, TX explains right turn problem. http://paulfordreports.com/4701.html

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