published Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Nashville: Statewide traffic-camera law passes House committee

NASHVILLE — Legislation imposing statewide standards on cities’ use of traffic-enforcement cameras sped through the House Transportation Committee today on a voice vote.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, now advances to the House Finance Committee.

“It standardizes them statewide,” Dean said. “It puts all camera programs under the same umbrella, everybody playing by the same rules.

Rep. Bill Harmon, D-Dunlap, a critic of the redlight and speeding cameras, contended the bill “has no teeth” because cities face no fines if they disregard standards such as requiring an independent traffic engineering study before setting up cameras. Currently, the companies that sell traffic cameras often conduct the studies.

But Dean said cities disobeying the law could be sued by unhappy citizens.

Standards in the bill are largely modeled on Chattanooga’s program.

Later in the committee, a separate bill failed that required any citation arising from a traffic camera be delivered by police instead of sent through the mail.

Cities claimed the bill, which would have required the camera to take a photo of drivers as well as car tags, would make the use of photo-enforcement impractical.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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Most states are doing this so this should be of no surprise.

March 22, 2011 at 7:17 p.m.
Humphrey said...

I've noticed that, especially on the interstate, sometimes I will be going exactly the speed limit and lot of people pass me. So clearly they are going over the speed limit. I mean there's really no doubt there.

So here's my proposal. I'll bring my digital camera with me, and every time somebody passes who is speeding, I'll take a snapshot of their license plate. I'll send them a ticket in the mail, and split the fine 50-50 with Hamilton Co.

And I'll go a step further. If the person wants to contest it, I will go to court and swear under oath that I actually observed them speeding, and they can ask me questions. That has to be more legal than these traffic cameras, because the constitution grants us the right to confront our accuser. However, the traffic cameras are tried in civil court instead of criminal court, where the burden of proof is less. But how can this be a civil violation? How can that possibly be legal? And how can we verify that the camera and the radar are actually working, calibrated, correct? I know that technology I use screws up all the time, but we have to accept that these machines are completely infallible? How can that be?

March 22, 2011 at 9:40 p.m.
GeorgiaRebel said...

The whole photo enforcement issue is all about revenue for cities and counties. It has nothing to do with safety.

March 23, 2011 at 10:21 a.m.
easttn said...

I agree. It is money. In morristown they said if they had to take the camera down they would has raise taxes 15cent

March 23, 2011 at 10:28 a.m.
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