Place Ad
Contact Us

State bill would change right on red

A bill passed by state legislators, and signed by Gov. Bill Haslam Monday, could take away Farragut’s ability to cite motorists who illegally turn right on red through the Town’s automated enforcement camera system.- Heather Mays/farragutpress
While the Tennessee legislature didn’t pass any laws that would outlaw red-light cameras outright, Farragut photo enforcement manager Ben Harkins said they did pass legislation that could drastically change how the Town operates its cameras in the future.

“Basically, the state legislature has taken away an enforcement tool for local government,” Harkins said of the bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam Monday, June 6.

SB 1684 (HB 1500) was sponsored by numerous legislators, including Knoxville’s Sen. Stacey Campfield and Rep. Ryan Haynes. It won’t immediately affect red-light camera systems with contracts already in place, but will affect new systems and current systems once their contracts are up for renewal.

For Farragut, the time of contract renewal would be fall 2014.

The bill states that any local government must conduct a traffic study before implementing a red-light camera system, requires that a notice of violation be sent within 20 days of an incident and states the maximum fine (not including court costs) be $50.

But the biggest change the bill makes is ruling that tickets from red-light cameras for illegal right turns on red can only be issued if the intersection has signs posted that proclaim “No Turn on Red.”

In other words, Harkins said, intersections with red-light cameras could no longer allow right turns of any kind during a red light, or would be placed in the odd position of being unable to ticket illegal right turns through the camera system.

Tennessee state law allows right turns on red unless otherwise posted.

“The red-light cameras can no longer cite for right turns on red with the camera only,” Harkins said.

The Town already has signs at all of its camera-monitored intersections warning motorists not to turn right on red without stopping first, but Harkins said the new rule was not as simple as erecting new signs.

“That’s an engineering question, as to whether they would institute any signs like that or not,” Harkins said.

State law allows legal right turns on red to improve traffic flow; if right turns were simply stopped at any camera-monitored intersection, that could cause problems.

“I think in order to have a sign, ‘No Turn On Red,’ I think that there probably has to be some valid traffic engineering reason for that,” Harkins said.

Haynes said any municipality wishing to erect “No Turn on Red” signs would have to meet the same engineering standards prohibiting right turns on red as they would at any other intersection in the state.

That leaves local governments in the seemingly contradictory situation of having cameras in place to enforce a current state law prohibiting illegal right turns on red, but having a new state law that does not allow them to ticket for those violations if the only witness is a camera.

“They cannot issue a citation from an automatic camera while turning right on red unless it was posted otherwise that you cannot make a right turn on red. ... The ones in Farragut, I don’t think that would apply to any of them because they’re not posted, so they would no longer be able to give tickets for turning right on red from a traffic camera,” Haynes said.

The only way a municipality could issue automated citations for illegal right turns on red at a camera-monitored intersection is if all turns on red are prohibited completely.

Haynes said it was “dead on” that Farragut, before renewing its contract, would have to do a traffic study at each monitored intersection proving it is dangerous enough to warrant cameras, and would not be able to ticket for right turns on red unless those intersections met engineering requirements that would prohibit turns altogether.

For more information, or to read the bill in its entirety, visit


News | Opinion | Sports | Business | Community | Schools | Obituaries | Announcements
Classifieds | Place Ad | Advertising | Contact Us | Archives | Search

© 2004-2017 farragutpress