Use of Red Light Cameras Debated in Tennessee City

May 21, 2013

A group in Murfreesboro has started a petition to end the use of red light cameras, but police say the traffic enforcement measure has improve safety.

Middle Tennessee State University student Axl David, who heads Citizens Against Photo Enforcement, says he plans to submit the petition to City Council after 1,000 people have signed it.

The group complains that the city uses the cameras to “shake down motorist for violations.” He says a majority of tickets are issues for split-second violations.

“Our motivation is to get rid of the cameras,” said David.Red Traffic Light And Camera

Police, however, have presented arguments for expanding the cameras. They say statistics show the cameras are making all intersections across the city safer.

“Even with the reduction in crashes realized thus far, we believe an expansion in the program could extend our efforts to increase the safety of signalized intersections,” Police Chief Glenn Chrisman wrote in a letter to City Council members.

The city put up the cameras in July 2008, and data shows more than 75,000 civil citations have been issues to violators with a $50 fine. The cameras record pictures and video of vehicles that cross the white line at intersections after the light turns red.

According to police records, the number of crashes at intersections with signals dropped from 1,692 in 2007-08 to 1,003 in 2011-12. Police say that’s a 53 percent decrease – and projections for 2012-13 are even lower at 828.

“Overall, every intersection in Murfreesboro is safer because of these cameras,” said Murfreesboro Police spokesman Kyle Evans. “Our goal was to adjust driver behavior and attitudes about running red lights.”

David suggested that other factors, aside from the cameras, could be leading to fewer crashes.

City Councilman Toby Gilley was initially against the idea of red-light cameras, mostly because he was concerned about constitutionality issues.

Gilley says an officer reviews the photos before any tickets are issued, and he fully supports the program, especially after seeing the results from it.

“Overall, I think they’re working and doing what they were designed to,” he said. “I think they can recondition all of our driving habits in a positive way.”

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