published Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Legislators debate use of traffic cameras


by Adam Crisp

Link to the House Transportation Committee hearing on traffic cameras

PROPOSALS FOR CAMERAS

* Outright ban

* Moratorium

* Requirements for additional engineering studies

* Uniform guidelines

* Statewide audit of the traffic camera programs already in existence

Source: Tennessee House Transportation Committee

Chattanooga's representatives on the Tennessee House Transportation Committee fought Tuesday to keep traffic cameras on state roads.

The discussion came as committee members sought to place guidelines -- or an outright ban -- on the controversial photo-enforcement systems that have appeared across the state.

"This is a difficult issue for every one of us," said Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga. "We have all our local governments who want to do this, but if you put it on a ballot, you'd get blown out of the water."

Chairman Rep. Bill Harmon, D-Dunlap, said the committee was attempting to compile ideas on how to regulate the cameras into one piece of legislation that could be sent to the full House for vote.

The committee made no decision Monday, but legislators agreed to reconvene at 9 a.m. CST today to sort through nine proposals.

Chattanooga's steep, winding "S" curves on Hixson Pike were touted as examples of how speed cameras can save lives. City leaders have long claimed the reduction in crashes along that road is due to video cameras that photograph speeding motorists, then issue $50 tickets by mail.

Chattanooga has both speed and so-called red-light cameras, while Red Bank uses red-light cameras at three intersections and East Ridge recently voted to install cameras on several roads.

Chattanooga Police Chief Freeman Cooper and Red Bank Police Chief Larry Sneed attended Monday's hearing, but did not speak.

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    Staff Photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press One of three traffic cameras at the intersection of Ashland Terrace and Dayton Boulevard in Red Bank records traffic light violations on Thursday. Cameras are installed at three intersections in Red Bank.

Among the proposals in the legislative committee were outright bans, moratoriums, requirements for additional engineering studies, proposals for uniform guidelines and a command for the state comptroller to perform a statewide audit of the traffic camera programs already in existence.

Among some legislators there was a desire to simply ban the cameras, while the two Hamilton County lawmakers, Rep. Floyd and Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, appeared to support tightening restrictions but keeping the cameras.

"almost a mandate"

"This is a representative form of government, and there are an awful lot of people who (oppose traffic cameras)," said Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport. "If we put it on the ballot, I think it would fail 85 to 15. That's almost a mandate."

Rep. Harmon introduced one proposal that would ban the cameras and a second that would put a two-year moratorium on the devices while the comptroller conducted a study.

Any vote cast today won't be a vote on a bill, but the proposals that make it out of the committee will be used to form a bill regulating the cameras.

The bill still needs to pass the committees and the full legislative bodies before being signed in as a law.

about Adam Crisp...

Adam Crisp covers education issues for the Times Free Press. He joined the paper's staff in 2007 and initially covered crime, public safety, courts and general assignment topics. Prior to Chattanooga, Crisp was a crime reporter at the Savannah Morning News and has been a reporter and editor at community newspapers in southeast Georgia. In college, he led his student paper to a first-place general excellence award from the Georgia College Press Association. He earned ...

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PhotoRadarScam said...

They are right. Photo enforcement has never survived a public vote. If they serve the public, then they should save everyone the election and BAN THEM NOW. There are locations in TN that have seen an INCREASE in accidents (Clarksville): http://www.wsmv.com/news/20711497/detail.html

Make the roads safer and get rid of them!

January 12, 2010 at 12:04 p.m.
Humphrey said...

It really does seem like a scam. A company in Georgia installs them and does the processing, then sends a cut of the money to the Chattanooga police. It is all about for-profit, but I guess the police need to make some money and it is a cheap way to do it when this company is going to run the whole thing for you and just send your check to you. They have it set up so that there is basically no way to fight against it.

January 12, 2010 at 12:13 p.m.
chattanoogan said...

They should use the cameras. If you're obeying the law you won't have anything to worry about. Chattanooga is full of bad drivers that constantly run red lights. The intersections are dangerous to pull thru when the light changes green because of drivers who don't know what a red light means. Of course a public vote would defeat the cameras! If the public voted on speed limit do you think there would be one in this town.

January 12, 2010 at 12:28 p.m.
pgoldberg said...

What do we have to do to get a public vote on speed limits?

January 12, 2010 at 7:44 p.m.
ucjb said...

Come and join us on Facebook group "Kill Tennessee Traffic Cameras". We are focusing on an all out ban on these cameras. http://www.facebook.com/killtncams

The process used is unconstitutional, when you are accused of a crime the burden of proof lies with accuser (government) and the current process only captures the tag number and NOT a picture of the actual driver of the vehicle. If they have no proof who the driver was then they have NO case.

Let Freedom Ring

Tell money grubbing Big Brother to take these cameras and shove'em

January 13, 2010 at 11:50 a.m.
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