Red-light cameras may cause a stink

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Red-light cameras may cause a stink in the General Assembly this year.

One issue of particular concern is growing discontent with red-light cameras in East Tennessee, which will make its way into the General Assembly this year.

Introduced last year, legislation concerning the legality of red-light cameras came out of summer study committee ready for a vote in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The House Transportation Committee amended and approved a bill to require counties and cities to make sure any contracts with vendors operating red-light cameras conform to the law.

The Senate Transportation Committee is expected to address the same bill this week.

A second bill would require a study on the use of the cameras and would place a moratorium on the installation of cameras until July 2012. The bill also addresses fines assessed by the use of the cameras. This bill was presented to the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday.

A third bill would prohibit the installation and maintenance of cameras at traffic lights. The bill sponsored by State Rep. Jason Mumpower (R-Bristol) has not been brought before a committee, and Mumpower said he had no timeline for when he would present the bill.

Members of the Rutherford County delegation are still learning about the issue.

Rep. Joe Carr (R-Lascassas) said he is leaning toward the continued use of the cameras.

He said if it is an issue primarily concerning safely patrolling the streets, and not revenue, then he would be against legislation to prohibit the cameras.

Rep. Kent Coleman (D-Murfreesboro) said the presentation by Murfreesboro on the use of the cameras helped to dispel any false impressions.

“My impression is that the existing system in Murfreesboro was an impressive system that promoted public safety,” he said.

Rep. Pat Marsh (R-Shelbyville) said he sees both sides of the issue and the use for public safety.

“If it is just for revenue, I have a problem with that,” he said.

Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) said he was concerned about the use of cameras at traffic lights before the Murfreesboro mayor and council presented information to the Rutherford County legislators.

“From a safety stand point over time it would be good,” Ketron said. “I don’t think Murfreesboro uses the cameras for revenue grabbing, but for public safety.”

Carr also intends to pursue a bill he worked on last year that would allow municipalities to take a special census. The cost would be paid by the municipality.

State budget

With the state facing a nearly $1 billion budget deficit, legislators are trying to find extra money wherever they can.

“The No. 1 issue every year is the budget,” Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) said.

He has introduced a bill that would tie legislators’ per diem to state employees’ pay. Under the bill legislators would not receive an increase in the per diem amount received unless state employees receive a salary increase of at least 1 percent. The estimated financial impact is $975,700 from fiscal year 2011-12 to fiscal year 2013-14.

“The budget is the overriding issue,” Coleman said. “The reduction in revenue is something we have not experienced in the past. There will be a lot of hard decisions and choices.”

One of those hard decisions will come from Gov. Phil Bredesen, who will announce state layoffs at his “State of the State” address on Monday.

“There are some layoffs in the bill and they’re in a couple of categories,” Bredesen said. “There are some that are being done for what I’d call ‘business reasons’ where we’ve made a decision to close something.”

He said there are other cuts that will be “painful, right now” but hopefully in the future could be “retrieved”.

“You can’t get from where we are to where we need to be without doing things that people are noticing,” Bredesen said. “And remember that we really have two years’ worth of cuts to deal with. Because of the stimulus funds, there were a number of cuts that were actually made, legally, last year, but which really haven’t come into effect yet.”

Read more from:
Bill Ketron, Donna Rowland, General Assembly, Jim Tracy, Joe Carr, Kent Coleman, Pat Marsh, Phil Bredesen, Public Policy, Red Light Cameras
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Members Opinions:
January 31, 2010 at 8:03am
If they were clearly for safety instead of revenue, why do they not place "Red Light Camera Warning Signs" at each location?
January 31, 2010 at 8:42am
If they find the cameras are illegal then will they be refunding all the fines? What about the taxpayer money paid to the company for installation and maintenance?

There could have been more done before sinking money into this system. They will post 3-4 cops on one road to take radar for hours. Why not do the same at problem intersections? Or why not just time the lights differently?
January 31, 2010 at 11:52am
Monitoring the movements of citizens without probable cause and a warrant is unconstitutional and contrary to a free society. When given a choice between being free or being safe, I'll take freedom and I'll take care of my safety myself.

Thank God none of these pro-surveillance people were not our founding fathers.
January 31, 2010 at 11:53am
Join us! Kill Tennessee Traffic Cameras.
January 31, 2010 at 1:46pm
If people would stop at the light, there would be no cameras.
January 31, 2010 at 2:31pm
I don't like the camaras period but, just slow down and stop speeding up when you see a yellow light.
January 31, 2010 at 2:31pm
I agree with Admiral. The statistics have shown a reduction in major accidents due to the cameras. And the city doesn't even receive much of a profit from the tickets. The city has to pay the red light company a huge percentage of the money received for upkeep and maintenance. It is there mainly for safety.
January 31, 2010 at 2:32pm
"Or why not just time the lights differently?"
I was recently at a conference and the Chief of Police for Lincoln Park, MI was there - asked him about traffic cameras. He said his town was told could not do them - illegal. So the adjusted traffic signals. Work initially but after a while drivers learned they had an additional 3 seconds to run the red light before the other side turned green - thus back to more wrecks.
Agreed, if people would respect the yellow and then the red, no need for enforcement. Yesterday in the snow I observed 8 cars turn off Old Fort onto Cason Lane after our side turned green - in the ice and snow, those were idiots for running the light.
But the City decided to NOT erect a traffic camera there - wonder why?
February 01, 2010 at 6:44am

The amber times work. And I suspect you KNOW IT TOO (so quit lying to everyone here), SO DO THE CAMERA COMPAINES!

Why else are they fighting it in AZ right now! HB 2338. You ought to hear camera companies and city complain.

The camera companies know what longer ambers mean. NO more RLC. Why do you think Dalton, GA or Norcross, GA dropped RLC. Because they worked???? NOPE, the longer amber killed off the profit!

February 01, 2010 at 6:46am
Redlight cameras are good for the city coffers,thats the bottom line.
February 01, 2010 at 7:00am
"The statistics have shown a reduction in major accidents due to the cameras. And the city doesn't even receive much of a profit from the tickets."

Show us your sources.
February 01, 2010 at 7:01am
It is no longer one nation under God.....It is one nation under surveillance.
February 01, 2010 at 1:55pm
Jim Brown, Research it. Call or email the city or police department. It's true. I'd say the city is not as corrupt as you might think. Look into things more closely before you criticize their decisions. I'm not saying they're always right but a lot of the time decisions are made for the good of the city.
February 01, 2010 at 3:01pm
In a previous story here on the Post, the "stats" showed an increse in reat end accidents, and if I am not mistaken a net increase in overall acidents.
February 01, 2010 at 3:38pm
Wow Jim Brown,srd275 pass the Hookah Pipe ya'll smokin some good stuff!!! Fried too many brain cells....lmao
February 01, 2010 at 3:48pm
Here's the crash numbers for Kingsport. In 2006 84 crashes before the cameras and 2008 148 with the cameras. Where is your proof?

February 01, 2010 at 3:50pm
WOW Emptypockets what are you smoking? I got the numbers to backup my assertions. What about you?
February 01, 2010 at 3:58pm
WOW Jim Brown, I don't need to blow smoke up peoples tailpipes with ASSertions...Don't run red lights, obey the law and no money to pay for the camera's, camera's go away!! Its so simple even you might be able to understand that....LMAO at YOU!!!
February 01, 2010 at 4:10pm
Oh Jim Brown, almost forgot I was laughing so hard, last time I checked we are in Murfreesboro, not Kingsport!!!
February 01, 2010 at 4:26pm
Yes, a slight increase in rear-end accidents. But like I said, a reduction in head-on and T-bone accidents.
February 01, 2010 at 6:10pm
I don't call an increase of 40% in total crashes a "slight" increase.

There was no data for head-on crashes because there weren't any.
February 01, 2010 at 6:13pm

"Oh Jim Brown, almost forgot I was laughing so hard, last time I checked we are in Murfreesboro, not Kingsport!!!"

Where are the numbers to back-up your assumptions? Please post them so we can compare before the cameras and after the cameras.
February 02, 2010 at 8:45am
Jim Brown, I will play your game: Murfreesboro's City officials have submitted for state certification special census results indicating there are now 100,575 residents in Murfreesboro, 23.5 percent population increase since 2005. That tells me that the city has increased an additional 50,000 people on our roadways since the year 2000, plus 25,000 MTSU students: "125,575".

"The police reported: Side-angle crashes decreased while rear-end crashes increased during the past year at intersections where red light cameras were installed, a Murfreesboro Police spokesman said Friday".

"Police investigated 189 crashes between July 2008 and June 2009, an increase of 16 crashes from the previous year at red-light camera intersections".

"Rear-end crashes increased by 23.5 percent while side-angle crashes decreased 11.2 percent from July 2008 and June 2009, said spokesman Kyle Evans".

"From July through December 2009, rear end crashes dropped 18.18 percent".

Now I'm just a common man, but I can read the stats, When I take into consideration that the city's population has increased by 75,000 since 2000 and you Jam these drivers on to already over crowded streets, the stats reported by the police department appear to be very Impressive. I would be very interested to see what the reports show the "At Fault" drivers were doing that caused the "Rear-End" crashes, because the police have stated that none were caused by the red light cameras. May be you can research this for us since you have so much time on your hands?

February 02, 2010 at 9:41am
"because the police have stated that none were caused by the red light cameras"

Would you really expect them to say anything else?

Oh, BTW the saw a nice t-bone at a camera intersection this morning...repeat after me "they are working"... not
February 02, 2010 at 11:54am
Jim Brown, Once again shows how much BS you like to spread around, I took the time to call the police department to see if there were any crashes at their monitored intersections and guess what....there were NONE!!
You might want to check your FACTS and read the paper on where these cameras are located!!
February 03, 2010 at 10:54am

I was talking about a crash in Kingsport.

Are you a lobbyist for a camera company
or maybe you're just a Big Brother lover?

Obviously, you don't understand the ramifications of these red light cameras from a constitutional standpoint. I'd rather be free from government intrusions and the trampling of our constitutionally protected rights.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." --Ben Franklin

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." --Thomas Jefferson

February 03, 2010 at 3:31pm
Whether the camera installation would be used for “revenue grabbing” or for the safety of the public, I wonder how useful the cameras would be in making sure drivers are abiding by the rules of the road. How much would camera installation cut back on reckless driving? Cameras or no cameras, I think people will still be speeding up to make it through yellow lights not to mention driving through red lights. I see drivers doing this at least once every day driving around Murfreesboro, but I also see a lot of police stationed at intersections that are stopping people even for speeding up at yellow lights.
Murfreesboro has grown so much, and between residents and 25,000 MTSU students, traffic is obviously an issue. With cameras installed, there may be fewer drivers going through red lights, but when cars are lined up bumper to bumper as they so often are during the day, I think there would still be just as many accidents. Someone breaks at a yellow light because of the camera, and the driver behind crashes into him.
There wouldn’t be an issue if drivers went the speed limit and took precautions in heavy traffic, but they don’t.
February 04, 2010 at 8:19am
"I was talking about a crash in Kingsport"

Maybe you should spend more time in Kingsport rather than worrying about the happenings in Murfreesboro!

Sorry to disappoint you, but I am just a regular old citizen that can tell when someone is blowing smoke up my tailpipe.

Maybe you are just so fired up about Red Light Camera's is because you have gotten one yourself?

My understanding of these camera's is that the only time it interacts with a citizen is when they are BREAKING THE LAW? Back to my original comment "QUIT BREAKING THE LAW" and you don't have to worry about the cameras!! But then again I can't say what goes on in Kingsport....LOL

Maybe you should start complaining to Wal-mart about their security cameras that runs 24hours aday and captures you scratching your Butt or Pickin your nose!!


Kudos to you, Now you make a good point, our streets are way over crowded and city engineers need to work on this problem.
February 04, 2010 at 11:01am
As a student at MTSU, I have to commute to campus everyday, and everyday I DREAD the drive in. Traffic during peak hours is very aggravating in Murfreesboro; the roads are cramped and people do tend to drive with their own agendas (e.g, trying to make it to class on time). I do think road safety is an issue in Murfreesboro, but I don't know if traffic cameras are the answer. The system seems very costly when the city is already worried about finances. More so, the 50 dollar ticket definitely hurt my finances. I feel like the system might be promoting people to be cautious at lights with known cameras, is that result sinking in at other stop lights? I'm curious how the cameras were working during the recent snow storm last friday. You would think people that don't get a chance to drive in snow a whole lot would be more cautious drivers. Instead, I witnessed a whole lot of people doing careless things; trying to make it through the light so ultimately they could sit in the middle of an intersection behind backed up cars and block traffic. I think the presence of more officers around town would be more beneficial.
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