Scoffing at traffic laws, or at least running stoplights, will become more difficult in Murfreesboro with the new automated camera system that will catch law-breakers in the act.
The first three cameras – at Memorial and Northfield boulevards, South Rutherford and Mercury boulevards, and South Church Street and Middle Tennessee Boulevard – should be in place by April 1.
The remaining four intersections – Old Fort Parkway and West Thompson Lane, Northwest Broad Street and West Northfield Boulevard, Broad and South Church streets, and Middle Tennessee and New Salem Highway – should be completed by July 1.
“These intersections were chosen for the high number of collisions that resulted from running red lights. What I’m talking about is side angle collisions or T-bones. Those are very dangerous collisions. That’s what we’re looking to prevent,” explained Kyle Evans, Murfreesboro Police Department spokesman.
The camera system comprises infrared sensor, which detects when a car passes over the stop line, and the camera itself.
“What happens is, when the light turns red,” Evans explained, “anything that is behind the sensor (at) the stop bar triggers that sensor when a car passes over it. The camera system starts to take pictures. It takes a picture of the vehicle before the stop bar, as it’s crossing the stop bar or short after it’s crossed the stop bar.”
This means it will not take pictures of cars traveling through yellow lights, just the red light runners. In other words, don’t cross that thick white stripe painted on city streets.
This is bad news for those who run lights. The cameras will catch light-runners in the act by taking three photographs of the vehicle and license plate, Evans said.
A 30-day grace period begins after the first three intersections are fully operational and warning tickets will be issued.
The photos are sent to the Murfreesboro Police Department where an officer reviews the pictures and determines whether there’s cause for a ticket.
Drivers will be identified by license plate number and checked through Tennessee’s vehicle registration database and $50 tickets are mailed to the violator.
Violators can either pay the fine by mail or contest the ticket in court.
In cases where the driver is not the tag holder, a sworn statement will be accepted in court.
“You’ll be required to provide evidence, maybe in the form of an affidavit or a sworn statement saying that you are not the driver and naming who is,” Evans said.
The citations will not affect either driving records or insurance rates.
Footage will be available for review at a kiosk at the court in City Hall. City spokesman Chris Shofner said a second possible kiosk may be set up at the Murfreesboro Police Department.
In 2007, Murfreesboro City Council approved plans to implement an automated red light camera system to help with traffic flow.
“If you have people running the red lights constantly then it defeats the purpose of timing the lights,” Evans said, noting even he has sat through lights where cars keep coming after it has turned.
According to Evans, there are other benefits to the community as well, like freeing up police officers to prevent crime and answer emergency calls.
To run a red light campaign, Evans explained, it takes three to five officers for a single intersection.
With the cameras a single officer can monitor the seven intersections, which keeps more cops on the streets.