| March 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
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.