Town approves traffic cameras for five more years
By Meghan McCoy
“The result, what we feel like, has been a substantial increase in safety,” said Town Administrator Bob Browning of the decision reached during the board’s monthly meeting on Dec. 9.
The system was installed five years ago and, according to information supplied by Browning, the number of accidents has decreased since the cameras’ installation. While accidents throughout town have grown by 19.3 percent since 2008, the three signaled intersections with cameras have only seen an increase of 2.1 percent in accident rates during the same period.
The cameras were installed with photo enforcement signs at the intersections of Boone Street and 11E, Forest Drive and 11E, and Headtown Road and 11E. They will remain at those locations.
The renewal period will commence on Jan. 1, 2014, and run until Dec. 31, 2018. The town has the option of extending their renewal term for up to two additional consecutive and automatic three-year time periods following the 2018 expiration date.
At the meeting, many citizens spoke in favor of renewing the system, saying it left them feeling safer with the cameras intact.
Mayor Kelly Wolfe also commented. “The popularity of a camera system depends on where you live,” Wolfe said. “Folks who live outside of the town really don’t like the cameras.”
Browning said town staff looked at Jonesborough traffic flows during a transportation study five years ago. They reviewed where people were coming from and the volume of traffic through the town. From that study, the Tennessee Department of Transportation recommended the town review signal intersections for a traffic safety study.
It was during that time period that town officials began talking about traffic cameras because they found that in other locations, the installation appeared to decrease the number of accidents.
About 3,200 vehicles travel Boone Street and 11E each day through Jonesborough, Browning said, and that’s a tremendous amount of traffic.
“Anything we could do to reduce accidents and speeds was something that we felt like we needed to look at,” he said.
Browning attributes the increase of safety in the three intersections to citations given for speeding and running red lights.
If a motorist goes through one of the intersections with cameras installed at 56 mph or more, he or she receives a citation, he said.
Officers have also indicated that they can see people going closer to the speed limit while traveling through the photo-enforced intersections. The Redflex system has shown that 90 percent of people going through the intersections from Boone Street to Headtown Road are either going above the speed limit by 5 mph or less than the speed limit, Browning added.
“That’s a really good situation as far as safety is concerned,” he said.
A citation is issued if both sets of wheels of the vehicle are not behind the stop bar when the traffic light turns red and the motorist continues through the intersection.
To help prevent this from occurring, the yellow caution light is set at five seconds, the maximum length of time according to state law, providing motorist traveling at 45 mph with more than 300 feet to stop at the light.
“We felt that was important that we were providing everyone the opportunity to abide by traffic regulations,” Browning said.
While town officials maintain the camera system has shown to be highly accurate, Browning said if there is a discrepancy in terms of being able to see the license plate number or what happened in the intersection, the town errs on the driver’s side.
“The Town of Jonesborough ultimately determines if a citation is issued or not,” Browning explained. “Someone at the sergeant level or above reviews the videos and the potential citations.”
Wolfe encourages folks to be safe, smart and to slow down while driving and take a deep breath.
“Don’t endanger your life and those around you in the Town of Jonesborough,” he said.