Red Light Cams Reduce Traffic Accidents

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Red Light Cams Reduce Traffic Accidents

Posted: 03/14/2007
The number of traffic accidents at more than a dozen high-volume Knoxville intersections dropped 17 percent last year after the installation of photo enforcement or "red light" cameras at those locations.

More importantly the number of total angle accidents - often referred to as "t-bone crashes" - were down 45 percent at those intersections in 2006 when compared to same period in 2005.The camera-enforcement system installed pursuant to a contract with Red Flex Traffic Systems Inc. has also recorded over 62,000 separate instances of motorists running those red lights according to Knoxville Police Department Statistics.

The camera system became operational in April of 2006 and is currently operating at 13 different intersections."These cameras have cost the taxpayers nothing and have reduced crashes at the intersections where they have been installed," said KPD Chief Sterling Owen IV. "They've made our streets safer for the citizens who travel on them and have brought an awareness of driver behavior that we expect will have a long-term impact."

The city's camera enforcement program, however, could be affected by legislation currently pending in the state legislature that would forbid the city from contracting with a private company to operate the cameras.Knoxville currently, by contracting with RedFlex, does not pay a single penny of taxpayer money to operate or manage the system."There is no cost to the taxpayers," said KPD Capt. Gordon Catlett, the program's manager. "The only people who pay for this program are the people who violate the law."Currently we have a program that has a proven track record in public safety," he added.

Catlett also pointed out that a KPD officer reviews every alleged traffic violation caught by the cameras and it is that officer, not anyone with RedFlex, who makes the decision whether or not a citation should be issued.The proposed bill would also mandate how long the caution, or yellow light, signal would be displayed on city traffic signals where such cameras are being used.There have been allegations made that the city has reduced the length of time that the caution, or yellow light, is displayed at traffic signals where the camera system is in use.

The city's traffic engineering department determines traffic signal timing based on national standards and the KPD has nothing to do with the timing. The city has not changed the timing of any of the signals at the intersections where the camera systems are located.The number of rear end crashes at the locations was also down 1 percent in 2006 from the same time period in 2005.