The city of Red Bank has decided to stop using video enforcement of right-turn-on-red violations in order to comply with a new state law. The city temporarily quit giving citations for right-on-red infractions starting July 1, when the law went into effect, in order to await the legal opinion of Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper.
"We asked for an opinion from the attorney general to interpret the law for us," said City Manager Chris Dorsey. "We were confused as to whether the new law could apply to current contracts."
Cooper's legal opinion stated that "this Office finds compelling arguments exist to support the position that the passage of Chapter 425 does not impair any contractual relationship," though he was unable to provide a definitive answer because his office was not supplied with the city's contract with photo-enforcement vendor American Traffic Solutions, which is contracted to install, maintain and upgrade the cameras and pull information on citations.
ATS provides the city of Red Bank 60 to 65 percent of the revenue from citations, according to Dorsey, 50 percent of which, or about $185,000, came from right-on-red violations.
The new law bans the use of traffic cameras to give tickets for right-on-red unless the city posts a sign banning all right turns at red lights.
"It's still against the law, and you can still get a ticket from a uniformed officer," said Dorsey.
The city began issuing citations for right-on-red based on video evidence in January 2006. The first camera was installed at the intersection of Dayton Boulevard and Signal Mountain Road across from Mojo Burrito in January, followed by one at the intersection of Ashland Terrace and Dayton Boulevard later that year.
Dorsey said the traffic camera citations were intended to inform people of the safety hazards at those intersections. For example, drivers turning right onto Signal Mountain Road from Dayton Boulevard without coming to a complete stop are likely to miss drivers pulling onto the same road from Spring Street between Mojo Burrito and Valvoline, he said.