published Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Panel OKs bill on traffic cameras

  • photo
    A sign advises motorists that a traffic camera is in use at the corner of Highway 153 and Hamill Road.
    Staff File Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press

NASHVILLE — Legislation imposing statewide standards on cities’ use of traffic-enforcement cameras sped through the House Transportation Committee Tuesday 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 red-light 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 residents.

Standards in the bill largely are 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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