The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

MARCH  2010

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.






Daily Local News Updates
Click Here

Traffic Cameras Flash No More
  Red light, speed enforcement cameras lose money
and the support of legislators.

by Ashley Murphy

Once again, red light cameras are making the spotlight here in Cleveland. Except, this time, it's because they are being taken down, instead of being put up. The reasoning behind this is because the red light systems aren't making enough money. Of course, this didn't come from the City of Cleveland. Traffipax, the company Cleveland is currently contracted with, is terminating the agreement.

Feature Writers















B J Armstrong

Alexandra Edwards

June Griffin

Mel Griffith

Ned Hickson

Jerry Keys

Joe Kirkpatrick

Joel Lawler

Ashley Murphy

Pauline Murphy

Cecil Owen

Pettus Read

Katie McFadden

Chloe Lawler

At the end of January, City Manager Janice Casteel received a memo from Traffipax stating that both parties, Traffipax and the City of Cleveland, have been operating the current camera sites at a financial loss and that the company wishes to terminate the agreement.

Currently, there are five red light camera locations at the following intersections: Paul Huff Pkwy./Stuart Rd. and North Lee Hwy./Keith St.; Raider Dr. and Keith St.; 25th St. and Keith St.; 20th St. and Keith St.; and 25th St. and Peerless Rd.

The company's plan is to have all of the sites decommissioned by March 31, 2010. However, citation data will be sent to the City of Cleveland, in an agreed upon format, so that the city will still be able to collect on unpaid citations.





This brings back the issue of red light cameras being used as a ploy to bring in additional government revenue, which seems to be the biggest issue among those who oppose traffic enforcement cameras. That, and the fact that they believe it is an invasion of privacy, unconstitutional and a "Big Brother" government watch.

One of the main reasons, traffic camera tickets don't go against one's driving record. A law set in place in 2008 made traffic enforcement camera citations a nonmoving violation. Meaning, one can accrue several tickets and not be penalized, as far as their driving records are concerned. In addition, these photo enforced citations are not turned in on a person's insurance. They just penalize a person's wallet in the direction of the city and the traffic enforcement camera company administering the citations.

The Cleveland City Council and Casteel have said that this program was not a revenue based decision, but a decision made for the safety of motorists traveling through the area. The red light cameras have been credited for "greatly" reducing the number of traffic accidents at the intersections.

After reviewing the pre-camera data for FY 2008 and the numbers post-camera for FY 2009, it is true that traffic accidents have been reduced by 55% between the five intersections. However, only two intersections saw a dynamic difference. Paul Huff Pkwy./Stuart Rd. and North Lee Hwy./Keith St. went from 59 accidents in 2008 to 20 in 2009, after the cameras were installed. The intersection of 25th St. and Keith St. saw a 50% decrease, from 46 to 23.

These two intersections were also improved close to the time red light cameras were installed there. The design of each intersection is in correspondence with the other, so both have the same layout.  Before, there was only one turning lane for the east and west bound traffic. Since the improvements, both intersections have added an extra turning lane on each side, east and west, allowing more traffic to proceed through the intersection with more ease than before. Could these intersection improvements also be credited for reducing the number of collisions?

The remaining intersections decreased very little, and one actually increased by double. At 20th St. and Keith St. accidents went from 7, before cameras, to 4 after the cameras. At 25th St. and Peerless Rd., accidents went from 19 to 18 and at Raider Dr. and Keith St. accidents went from 5 in 2008 to 10 in 2009, post-camera.

Like the City of Cleveland, several jurisdictions believe in red light cameras and their ability to keep motorists safe, while others see them as a money-grabbing scheme and can't see the logic behind such systems. Nevada, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Wisconsin have previously banned red light cameras completely. Just this past year, Maine, Mississippi and Montana joined in the ban. Missouri and Tennessee are sponsoring upcoming legislation that wouldn't ban the cameras, but greatly limit them, due to recent findings in cities across those states.

One city close to home, Chattanooga, was caught with an illegally short yellow light time at one intersection with cameras. In 2008, it came to be known that the intersection of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Pine Street had a shorter yellow light time than other intersections. In early 2008, a Chattanooga judge ordered the dismissal of charges against 176 vehicle owners and the refund of $8,800 in red light camera tickets trapped by this light. According to those that oppose photo-enforced systems, shortening yellow lights seems to defeat the purpose of having cameras for safety, and hints at a city's revenue scheme.

California seems to be a prominent violator of this act, placing photo-enforced systems at intersections with high traffic volume and yellow phase lights that are under four seconds. In a report by The News Paper,
, this issue is discussed. They continue by saying "short yellows trap drivers in what is know as a 'dilemma zone' where there is neither time to stop safely - without slamming the brakes and risking a rear-end collision - nor to proceed through the intersection before it changes to red. Red light cameras capitalize on this, with four out of every five tickets issued before the light has been red for a full second, according to a report by the California State Auditor. This suggests that most citations are issued to those surprised by a quick-changing signal light."

Also on the list for yellow violations are cities in Texas and Missouri. Nashville, TN has also had several yellow light transgressions. The city has not yet progressed to the use of photo enforced tickets, but the police department was illegally trapping people with short yellow times at a multitude of intersections to increase departmental revenue.

The Tennessee General Assembly is currently reviewing several bills that could potentially be passed down for voting. Those include: HB0541 - As introduced, requires traffic signals located in intersections employing surveillance cameras for traffic safety to use minimum exposure time of five (5) seconds for yellow light while maintaining three (3) second minimum yellow light for other traffic signals; HB2732 - As introduced, requires that revenues derived by municipalities and counties from the use of traffic surveillance cameras be allotted solely to the state highway safety program; HB2736 -  As introduced, prohibits traffic surveillance cameras after January 1, 2011.

The above proposed bills will also affect traffic cameras used to enforce speed limits. The City of Cleveland had expressed interest in these devices as well. It is unclear what their direction will be regarding speed cameras, since the recent decommission order for red light cameras in the city.

While many don't see the ban on use of traffic surveillance cameras coming to fruition, greatly reducing them is a step forward. Opponents of red light cameras believe that if these systems are limited and laws are enacted to make revenue harder to gain, if received at at all by municipalities and counties, several may start taking them away. 

A fun way to find what
you want in Cleveland

Business Online

Back Issue

Click here to go to latest issue

What Do You Think?

Do you believe Red Light and Speed Control Cameras are primarily being used by local governments to raise revenue?
(See story on this page)

Totals for this survey will be tabulated at the end of February 2010.
Click here for results after February

The People News
PO Box 3921
Cleveland TN. 37320
(423) 559-2150  Fax 559-1044

Pete Edwards, Editor - Publisher
Tonya Brantley, Managing Editor

Ashley Murphy, Media Assistant
Copyright 2010 (All rights reserved)


Website Survey Results

Salute to our troops

Twelve and Counting