Red light cameras in Clarksville, TN

Red light cameras

Bob Durham's Blog | Red light cameras

Red light cameras. You love them or you hate them but in Clarksville and many other cities they are simply a fact of life. CPD has a long term contract for them and they renewed it when the State decided to modify the laws about them. 

There are generally two schools of thought on them. #1. They are a tool to discourage driving behaviors that can cause crashes. They are a deterrent.  #2. They are a revenue system. They are a municipal tax that sidesteps what the average citizen already pays out to their government.

In some jurisdictions cameras are used to enforce multiple traffic infractions such as speeding. In Clarksville they are only used for red light infractions. I was a CPD officer when the cameras first came to town. There was a LOT of discussion about the cameras and their potential uses. The public line was that they were put in place to decrease side impact crashes. The theory was that if people were trained not to run red lights through negative reinforcement (no, the city NEVER referred to it as that, but let's be honest, when you have to pay a fine for an infraction the monetary loss makes you a lot more aware of your circumstances. At least for a little while) that they would, in turn, cause less crashes with persons coming through the cross side of intersections.

Problem with that is that there was actually an increase in rear impact collisions. (I have no idea what current statistics are, I am talking about the first year that the cameras were in use. No, I can't show you a chart or graph. I just recall that being a topic of discussion at a few internal meetings).  In an interview with the local paper, the commander of CPD's traffic enforcement unit admitted that there was no empirical data showing they improved matters. It seems perfectly logical to believe that there is then, no empirical data showing that they have made anything worse

Currently, T.C.A. states that no unmanned camera citation can legally impact a citizens credit score, insurance rates or driving record. In fact, T.C.A. 55-8-198 declares that any offense cited from one of these devices can only be charged as a non-moving violation. However, the tickets issued, in the past at least, were stamped in large bold red letters that payment was required by law. There is still legal debate ongoing in that regard.

People are just exactly that: PEOPLE. they are going to make mistakes when they are stressed, tired or just plain distracted. Some genuinely have no regard for those around them and they drive accordingly. Some think that they just drive that much better than everyone else around them. Will a camera change any of that?

I have a very firm opinion on these cameras. It is actually the very same one that I had when they were first introduced. Thing is that I write blogs like this to either entertain you folks or to provide information that many simply don't know. I call it a great success when I can do both. Consequently, I am not going to voice my position on them. To quote the man, Joe Friday: Just the facts, ma'am. PLEASE, everyone drive safely!

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