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Red Light Cameras Will Soon Be Online

Redlight Camera InstallationThree intersection red light cameras will soon be operational, much to the joy of some and the chagrin of others. The intersections for the Red Light cameras will be clearly marked. The intersections with the red light cameras will be: 1) Wilma Rudolph/Trenton Rd; 2) Wilma Rudolph/I-24; and 3) Ft Campbell Blvd/Gate 3. Barring any inclement weather, the cameras should be operational by May 1, 2009.

When the first red light camera is activated, there will be a 30 day warning period for drivers. What does that mean? It means the cameras will be functional and red light violators will be identified and issued warning Notice of Violation (similar to a civil summons). This will allow drivers to have a grace period for getting used to operation of the cameras and allows the Police Department time to ensure equipment and procedures are in place and working correctly.

The purpose of the red light cameras is pretty straightforward—reduce red-light running at camera monitored intersections and reducing angle collisions. The simplest way to understand an angle collision is to envision the front of one vehicle impacting the side of another vehicle. There are more technical aspects to explaining an angle collision, but it would only muddy an otherwise easy explanation. Red light cameras are on standalone mounts at select intersections. There will be advisory signs letting motorists know an intersection has a red light camera operating; there is nothing secret squirrel about the location of the cameras. We are attempting to reduce accidents, not generate revenue.

Before we explain how red light cameras work, we must make sure certain facts are understood. The first thing we need to understand is what is considered running a red light. To be considered as running a red light, the vehicle must enter the intersection after the light has already turned RED. The intersection is defined and generally marked with solid white stop bar on each road entering an intersection. Running a yellow light or the light turning red while a person’s vehicle is trapped in an intersection awaiting an opportunity to turn (e.g. waiting to turn left) will not register as a red light violation. Also, if a right turn on red is allowed at an intersection, the motor vehicle operator must come to a complete stop at the stop bar line, before making the turn. A complete stop means total cessation of movement. Now that the criterion for running a red light has been explained, we will explain how the red light camera operates.

Photo enforced red-light camera intersectionClarksville’s red light cameras are set up to automatically photograph the rear license plate when a driver runs a red light. The red light camera is also set up to both photograph and video the red light violation. The red light camera is connected to the traffic signal and to sensors that monitor traffic flow at the crosswalk or stop line. The system continuously monitors the traffic signal 24/7, and the camera itself is triggered by any vehicle entering the intersection above a pre-established minimum speed and following a specified time after the signal has turned red. The video typically runs for a total of 12 seconds. A second photograph typically shows the red light violator in the intersection. Cameras record the date, time of day, time elapsed since the beginning of the red signal, and vehicle speed.

Once a red light violation takes place, the process in place prior to actually issuing a Notice of Violation (similar to a civil summons) involves multiple reviews by Redflex and law enforcement. It all starts out with the recording of a red violation at an intersection. The details of the violation will be automatically electronically downloaded to a REDFLEX Traffic Systems Database. REDFLEX does an initial review of the data to see whether there are violations which meet the exemption criteria, such as: emergency vehicles operating with emergency equipment (lights and sirens), vehicle clearing an intersection allowing emergency vehicles through, funeral processions going through an intersection, etc. Also, during this time frame, vehicle registration information is looked up to determine who the registered owner of the vehicle is. The violations appearing to be valid are electronically sent to the Clarksville Police Department for review and validation. After validation, the information is electronically sent back to Redflex. Redflex sends the Notice of Violation by mail to owners of the violating vehicle following review by trained police officers of the photographic evidence.

After the violator receives the Notice of Violation, they can send the payment to the address in the packet or there are options available to dispute the citation. The violator will be able to review the photographic information associated with the red light violation via any computer connected to the internet or they can come by Clarksville Police Department to review the photographic information on Wednesdays from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. or Thursdays 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. unless it’s a holiday. . Each person will be provided a password to allow them to review the information online. Also, each person has an option to have their case heard by a judge. The paper work is located in the packet with the Notice of Violation. There must be some type of action completed within 30 calendar days from issue of the Notice of Violation. If there is not some sort of disposition in 30 days, a Final Notice of Violation will be sent to the violator. If there is no action taken within 15 days after the Final Notice, the data will be turned over to a collection agency for action.

The citations are considered non-moving violations and there are no points assessed against the licenses and are not reported to the state or the insurance company. The tickets will cost $50.00. If a person wants to contest the violation and the case is heard by a judge and found liable (guilty), the cost will be $135.75.

If a claim is made by the vehicle owner that someone else was operating the vehicle at the time of the red light violation, they can submit an affidavit identifying the vehicle operator’s information. The citation will be issued to the individual identified as the operator and they have the same options available as anyone else that was issued a citation.

The Clarksville Police Department will closely assess the success or failure of the red light cameras to determine whether they are accomplishing the desired intent—reducing accidents. Lt Gary Hurst will oversee the Clarksville Police Dept’s Red Light Camera Program. He can be reached at 931-648-0656, ext 2111.

About Jim Knoll

Jim Knoll is the Public Information Officer for the Clarksville Police Department

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5 COMMENTS

  1. One thing to be aware of is that the major source of revenue for the city with these cameras is not from people who run straight through the red-light, the classic red-light runner. Instead they will get the vast majority of the revenue from people who do not come to a complete stop when making a right turn on red. This is a violation of the law, but generally is the safest type of red-light violation.

    Another point to be aware of is the fact that You have to come to a complete stop twice at some intersections. If the line is set back away from the curb, you must come to a complete stop at the stop line, and again at the curb. This little gotcha is another reason why these cameras are so scammy…

    ScamerasWhile the average police officer may indeed wish to make the roads safer, The Police Department leadership and the Politicians are only seeing how much of your hard earned cash that they will get to spend. To see things from their point of view you only have to look at the image to the right.

    Another issue with these cameras is that you will not receive a notice of violation until weeks after the alleged violation occurred. With a police officer you can justify your actions immediately while the incident is still fresh in memory. These cameras rely on you not being able to recall the incident and thus being at a disadvantage for defending yourself. Some people maintain that this is a violation of their Due Process rights, and that is defiantly a claim to look into with an attorney if you wish to challenge the ticket.

    The process the city intends to subject you is the equivalent of a civil lawsuit. The city maintains that your violation of their red-light laws caused them an unspecified harm thus entitling them to monetary damages. There is a lesser standard of evidence that applies at these proceedings. The city considers you guilty unless you are able to prove yourself innocent to their satisfaction. They will also almost triple the fine if you dare to attempt to defend your self. Which many people to consider an attempt by the City and Redflex to deny you your constitutional right to defend yourself, and to a jury trial.

  2. If you are obeying the road laws and speed limits then you have nothing to worry about. Law abiding drivers will not be ticketed. When a driver sees a yellow light that means slow down and prepare to stop, not speed up and run the light.

    Red light runners narrowly miss my vehicle at least 3 times a month and often with my wife and grandchildren on board. There should be more thought about taking lives of innocent people if a light is run.

    This is not about making revenue but attempting to increase safety on our streets and make drivers more aware of obeying traffic lights.

  3. But that’s not true. Many lights are timed to entrap motorists. The light is timed too short and the motorist is left with a choice jam hard on their brakes, and get into an accident, or proceed through the intersection and get a ticket for a fraction of a second infraction on the red-light. I have no issues with people who intentionally run the light getting ticketed. I do have serious issues when the light entraps the person into running it.

    I have issues with the safety impacts of these cameras. Study after study shows these cameras cause more accidents not less. The accidents also cost much more to repair.

    I have issues with politicians compromising our safety in the name of increased revenues.

    I most definitely have serious issues with people like yourself who justify all this with platitudes.

    I also don’t have the problem you have with people almost hitting me because as a safe and prudent driver, I wait for cross traffic to come to a complete stop before proceeding through the intersection. Assuming that a green light means you can drive through a intersection without a care is a recipe for disaster.

  4. What are my chances in contesting? I know I ran the light but that was because I couldn’t stop at the line in time. Hey maybe I’m just slow but I applied breaks in my van but didn’t feel I could safely stop ( would have stopped in the middle of intersection )in time so choose to continue on. What are my options? I don’t really want to pay an extra $120 if the judge doesn’t think that’s a good enough reason and I don’t want to pay the $50. If a real officer was present they would have seen I was trying to stop. The camera isn’t video so that’s hard to prove. Help!

    • It’s a crap shoot and depends on how the judge is feeling that day.

      (2) Yellow alone or “Caution,” when shown following the green or “Go” signal:
      (A) Vehicular traffic facing the signal is warned that the red or “Stop” signal will be exhibited immediately thereafter and that vehicular traffic shall not enter or cross the intersection when the red or “Stop” signal is exhibited; and

      (3) Red alone or “Stop”:
      (A) Vehicular traffic facing the signal shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until green or “Go” is shown alone. A right turn on a red signal shall be permitted at all intersections within the state; provided, that the prospective turning car shall come to a full and complete stop before turning and that the turning car shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and cross traffic traveling in accordance with their traffic signal; provided, further, such turn will not endanger other traffic lawfully using the intersection. A right turn on red shall be permitted at all intersections, except those that are clearly marked by a “No Turns On Red” sign, which may be erected by the responsible municipal or county governments at intersections which they decide require no right turns on red in the interest of traffic safety;

      So the odds are not good in the situation you describe. You may have luck if you can determine that the intersection does not meet the state or federal minimum standards for that intersection. It’s based on the speed of the road, width of the intersection, if there is a grade or a curve leading up to the light.

      Your best bet is to ask a lawyer..

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