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Seventeen violations, no cop, one ticket

A motorist begins a spree of 17 moving violations by making an illegal left turn from the right turn lane on Kingston Pike at Campbell Station Road on a red light.- Redflex video capture
Two traffic cameras. Seventeen violations. One ticket.

That’s the count after one motorist drove through the intersection of Campbell Station Road and Kingston Pike at 1:37 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 12, breaking an astonishing number of traffic laws in a little less than two minutes.

“If a police officer had been there, she could have been taken to jail,” Farragut photo enforcement manager Ben Harkins said.

In her law-breaking two-minute jaunt, the unidentified driver — reported by drivers in the intersection at the time to be a woman — ran four different red lights, three from the right turn lane: driving straight through the intersection once, turning left once and turning right once.

In other words, not only was she running red lights, but twice she ran a red light from the wrong lane.

She also did a 360-degree turn in the middle of the intersection (again while running a red light), in addition to multiple infractions including failure to signal, failure to yield right-of-way, improper lane usage and improper lane change.

She also likely pulled three U-turns (out of view of the camera) — twice on Kingston Pike and once on Campbell Station — that are presumed legal because they’re not visible.

That’s not to mention multiple near-accidents involving other vehicles.

Finally, the motorist — in either a rented or leased vehicle — drove straight through a red light heading eastbound on Kingston Pike.

That is the only violation she could be cited for.

“Because she was in the right turn lane, we didn’t even pick her up,” Harkins said of the other red-light runs.

That’s due to the state’s new camera-enforcement law, Public Act 425, which essentially disallows towns from citing motorists for making illegal right turns on red. It also makes it unfeasible for Farragut to track down and ticket motorists in the right lane who run red lights straight through or turning left.

“We no longer monitor the right turn lane because they changed the law. If we still monitored that lane, we could have cited her. The problem we have is that we can’t spend the time to go through literally hundreds and hundreds of incidents that are, under state law, not allowable for me to cite, in order to catch that one violator that goes straight through,” Harkins said.

In fact, Harkins wouldn’t have known about the length of the law-breaking escapade if someone at the intersection hadn’t called him and reported it.

State Rep. Ryan Haynes (Dist. 14), who co-sponsored Public Act 425, said he didn’t vote on the bill that became law.

He said he didn’t consider this type of situation to be an unintended consequence of the new law, since Farragut could legally still ticket for the wrong-lane red-light runs, even if they were from the right lane.

“I hope they prosecute that person to the fullest extent,” he said.

The fullest extent, in this case, is a $50 fine, although Farragut legally could choose to turn the cameras back on and wade through un-citable right-turn on red violations to catch someone who ran the red light from the wrong lane in the future.

Public Act 425 is the subject of a lawsuit from Farragut’s camera vendor, Redflex, challenging the law as arbitrary and unconstitutional because it affects existing contracts.

According to Harkins, “All of the things she did wrong here come under the heading of ‘reckless driving.’”

An officer witnessing the scene likely could have charged her with at least four counts of reckless driving (for each red-light run) and cited each of her other traffic violations, he added.

Farragut doesn’t have a police force and Knox County Sheriff’s Office determines the number of patrols present in Town.

Before Public Act 425, the driver could have been cited via red-light cameras for all four red-light violations, which would have been, at minimum, a $200 fine.

But from Farragut all she’ll be getting is a $50 fine.


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