Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Traffic camera legislation to have ‘minimal’ impact on town

A Tennessee legislative bill that will have an effect on the installation and regulation of red light cameras has been approved by both the House and Senate and is headed to Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk for his signature.
If Haslam signs the bill, it will mean drastic changes in the way red light cameras are used throughout the state. But local leaders say the impact will be “minimal” in Jonesborough.
Jonesborough currently has red light cameras in three locations — one at the intersection of Headtown Road and Highway 11E, one at the intersection of Forrest Drive and 11E and another at the intersection of Boones Creek Road and 11E.
The bill will change the following aspects of the red light camera operations:
· New red light cameras may be installed only after a traffic study is conducted, showing that the cameras are necessary for public safety.
· Officers may not issue a citation for turning right on red unless the intersection has signage stating, “No Right Turn on Red.”
· Fines will be limited to a flat $50 if paid by deadline; no handling fee or court costs may be assessed.
· Speed enforcement cameras may not be placed within a mile of a decrease in the speed limit of 10 miles per hour or more.
Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) is pleased with the legislation.
“It brings much needed standardization to the red light camera rules across the state and requires the need for a traffic study before the cameras can go in,” he said. “It also calls for the capping of fees and addresses the right on red issue.”
Before the fee cap, a fine that was $50 could reach $100 or more with court costs and other fees.
“I know there are many citizens in Washington County that would like to see the cameras just go away,” Hill said. “I think this is a good compromise measure.”
Hill stressed that although Jonesborough will be affected by the regulations, the new restrictions were not aimed at the state’s oldest town.
“Jonesborough has never been on a list in Nashville for being one of those bad actors concerning the red light cameras,” he said. “Jonesborough has gone out of the way to do this the right way. They are a model for the rest of the state.”
Hill praised the town’s decision to lengthen the time a light remains yellow, an action he says prevents drivers from slamming on their brakes at intersections.
Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe says the effect of the bill’s passage will be “minimal” to the town.
Since the traffic light cameras were already approved when he became mayor, Wolfe said he has continued to support the project because of the good results he has seen.
“I respect and understand the intentions of the lawmakers who passed the law,” Wolfe said. “However, I also think, by and large, traffic cameras have been effective in Jonesborough in reducing the number of accidents at our intersections.”
Since the town does not include revenue from traffic camera fines in its budgeting process, Wolfe says Jonesborough’s budget won’t be affected by the proposed reduction in ticket fees.
“Our board has refused to allow camera revenue to be included in anything but reserve funds for the simple reason that a law could be changed or circumstances could warrant a drastic change in the revenue stream,” Wolfe said. “Then, the taxpayers would have to make up the difference in the budget.”
Wolfe also said there are no plans to ticket drivers for making a right on red at any of the town’s intersections except the one on Forrest Drive at Food City, where a sign prohibiting a right-on-red turn is already posted.
There are no plans to add “No Right on Red” signs at other town intersections, he said.