Red Light Cameras Spark Controversy In Tennessee

Abstract: Although red light cameras have decreased the number of intersection traffic accidents, Nashville lawmakers wish to eliminate them.

The streets of Nashville, Tennessee are filled with controversy over the eight, red light cameras strategically placed at the busiest intersections in the city. Some people say that these cameras have reduced the number of fatal car accidents, injuries and deaths resulting from drivers running red lights in these areas. Other motorists and lawmakers argue that the use of red light cameras could actually lead to more car accidents. Although state lawmakers wish to enact legislation that will keep Tennessee motorists safe on the road, some people feel that removing these traffic light cameras from operation may be a step in the right direction.

What are red light cameras?

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, red light cameras detect speeding motorists, as well as drivers who run red lights. Tennessee is one of 12 states in the nation that currently uses speed cameras in an attempt to deter, catch and penalize drivers who speed through intersections. A technologically advanced camera snaps an image of the vehicle as it speeds through the intersection or runs a red light. Not only does the camera store the image of the vehicle, it also reports the date, time and speed of the vehicle. The driver of the vehicle is then cited by mail and fined. According to the Gallatin Police Department, approximately 7,267 citations for running red lights were given in 2014 alone.

Benefits of red light technology

Since the red light cameras were installed in 2006, the Gallatin Police department reported a 35 percent decrease in the number of traffic accidents that occurred in those intersections. According to The Tennessean, the cameras run 24 hours a day, seven days a week in order to remind motorists to drive safely.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an estimated 133,000 people were injured and 683 people were killed in accidents involving motorists running red lights across the nation in 2012. Supporters of red light cameras feel that if lawmakers remove these cameras from prime intersections, driver negligence and the prevalence of auto accidents will increase.

Prohibiting red light cameras

The Senate Transportation Committee recently approved a new bill dedicated to reducing the number of citations given by red light camera operators. If passed, the bill would increase the length of the yellow light period to six seconds, giving motorists more time to make it through the intersection safely. Opponents of the cameras believe that this is the first step in eliminating the cameras from Tennessee roadways for good. These opponents claim that the cameras in some instances cause MORE motor vehicle accidents as motorists slam on their brakes suddenly due to the shortened yellow lights. These shortened yellow lights have proven to increase the number of citations issued by the cameras, generating more money for the municipality using them. The bill has now been sent to the legislature for approval.

Victims of car accidents may seek legal counsel

Auto accidents caused by negligent drivers can result in serious physical and emotional trauma to innocent motorists on the road. A Tennessee attorney may be helpful in exploring your legal options and organizing a case to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

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