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Town gives go-ahead for red-light cameras


Farragut is one step closer to erecting red-light cameras at several key intersections.

Members of the Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen gave associate town administrator Gary Palmer their blessing to go ahead and start the process for a red-light camera proposal request.

Palmer told the Board Redflex Traffic Systems, who made a presentation to the Town in February, has agreed to do a no-cost video study of several key intersections in Farragut, including Kingston Pike at Smith Road, Kingston Pike at Campbell Station Road and Kingston Pike at Concord Road.

“By them doing that, this is a no-stipulation feasibility study, right?” Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III asked.

“Correct,” Palmer said.

Palmer said in the past 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 midweek and 49 violations between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on a Friday.

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

Redflex regional sales director Cherif Elsadek, in the February meeting, 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.

The town conducted a couple of public meetings on the matter to inform the public of these potential cameras in town and to answer questions and criticisms of the system.

Knoxville Police Department Capt. Gordon Catlett led that public meeting.

Critics of cameras have said the cameras decrease angle crashes, but increase rear-end collisions. Catlett said statistics don’t back that up.

“We saw a one-percent decrease in rear-end collisions as a result of the cameras,” he said.

Another common criticism, he said, is a concern that Redflex, which is responsible for the Knoxville cameras, alters the time for the yellow signal to shorten it.

“Our yellow signal is four seconds, one second longer than the state-mandated standard,” he said. “Only the engineering department has access to it. It doesn’t make sense for anyone else to have access to it. Think how liable that would make the city.”

Another common complaint some have had concerns being cited when they weren’t driving the vehicle.

Catlett said Knoxville has in its ordinance a contingency for such measures. He used Enterprise Rent A Car as an example. The company is ultimately responsible for their rental cars, but what happens if one of their renters runs a red light?

He said if someone else is driving a vehicle that runs a red light, the owner may file an affidavit with the police department swearing he or she wasn’t driving the car at the time and offer up evidence on the identity of the actual driver. The real driver would then receive the citation.

 

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