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Red light cameras in Farragut pondered

Farragut speeders beware. Running red lights could soon become extremely costly.

Members of the Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen heard a proposal Feb. 8 from Redflex Traffic Systems concerning the possibility of installing traffic cameras at several key intersections in town.

Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III said a couple of months ago he directed assistant town administrator Gary Palmer to investigate the possibility of red-light cameras in Farragut.

Palmer said prior to contacting Redflex, he and town staff conducted an unofficial tally of the number of violations at certain intersections. What they looked for was clear occasions of drivers running red lights. At the intersection of Kingston Pike and Campbell Station Road, they counted 64 violations during the middle of the week between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. At that same intersection, they counted 39 violations on a Friday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The intersection of Kingston Pike and Concord Road garnered 75 violations mid-week and 49 violations between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on a Friday.

At the intersection of North Campbell Station Road and Grigsby Chapel Road, staff counted 87 violations between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., midweek, 63 violations between those same hours on a Friday.

The purpose of the cameras, Ford said, would be to decrease accident occurrence rates at certain intersections and not for revenue generation.

The possibility for revenue generation, however, does exist. Redflex regional sales director Cherif Elsadek told board members if cameras in Farragut caught 15 violations per day, the town portion of the annual income from those fines would be about $113,000.

Elsadek said Redflex uses 12 mega pixel digital cameras and full-motion video to catch violators in action and capture images of their license plates. Sensors produce an image A, which shows a violator approaching an intersection. This image contains a data bar, which shows date and time, intersection location, speed of vehicle approaching intersection, posted speed limit, length of time signal in red phase and other pertinent information. Image B shows violators going through a red light. The video shoots for 12 seconds to show, for example, if someone had to run a red light to make way for an emergency vehicle. After a violation, citations for $50 are mailed to registered owners of the vehicles.

In order to issue citations, however, the photos have to be certified by a police officer.

Capt. Ben Harkins of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office said the department would assist in whatever manner necessary, but if the town needed a full-time officer to certify violations, then the town would incur the cost of paying for the officer.

Town attorney Tom Hale pointed out there was a question of how citations would be handled. Would the town want to send violators to general sessions court in Knoxville to handle the matter and possibly send any revenue from the violations to that court, or prefer that violations be handled through Farragut Municipal Court Judge Jerry Martin? If the latter were the case, provisions would need to be added to the town ordinance to deal with such matters.

Redflex is currently in use in Knoxville, Elsadek said, and the company maintains, installs and updates the cameras with its own personnel. This is one of the reasons the company takes the lion’s share of traffic violation fees.


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