They're not always watching you.
At four intersections in Red Bank, traffic-regulating sensors have confused people into thinking the city has beefed up its traffic-camera enforcement.
"They look a lot like traffic cameras," said Jack Wood, the Red Bank branch president of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce. "But now we know they're not."
The white-capped overlords of the intersection share a resemblance to Red Bank's three sets of traffic cameras that snap when violators speed or run a red light, but officials say they're nothing of the sort.
"They are infrared sensors that send a beam that help to identify when traffic backs up at an intersection," Police Chief Tim Christol said. "There has been a lot of confusion, but nothing like a real uproar."
All the sensors - and traffic cameras - are at intersections with Dayton Boulevard. With the sensors, when a side-street motorist wants to turn onto Dayton Boulevard, the devices activate a red light to stop traffic so the driver has a clear left turn, Christol said.
• Browntown Road
• Leawood Road
• Martin Road
• Newberry Road
• Ashland Terrace
• Morrison Springs Road
• Signal Mountain Road
Note: All the roads intersect with Dayton Boulevard.
Last year, the sensors were part of a $271,000 stimulus project the federal government awarded Red Bank. The upgrade also included energy-efficient LED stoplight bulbs and "mast arms" that canceled old clutter.
Far from toughening the traffic-camera program, Mayor Monty Millard has tried to get rid of it. Last December, he failed to muscle the Arizona-based company that supplies the cameras into releasing Red Bank from a 12-year contract extension.
"With Monty in there, I don't think we have to worry about any new cameras at all," Wood said.
Millard faces re-election in 2012, one year before Red Bank officially can take down the cameras without incurring a financial penalty, according to the contract. Either party can cancel the contract on each three-year anniversary of its signing - 2013, 2016, 2019 or 2022.