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Traffic cops in one small Tenessee town have written a lot of traffic tickets so far this year using a new automated system. In total over 7,300 tickets have been issued.  (Source: Deadline Scotland)
Tennessee town of 17,000 has issued over 7,300 traffic tickets in half year since adopting system

The town of Farragut, Tennessee created quite a stir when it decided [PDF] back in 2006 to look at adopting an automated system to "watch" its town's drivers and automatically give them tickets for running red lights.  The system was finally contracted in 2009 to Redflex INC.  The system was completed in August 2009 with three cameras, and a fourth camera went online this summer.

The early statistics have been released by the town and they're either a staggering statement to how blatantly the town's population violates the law or how automated traffic enforcement systems may be much more active than expected.

In the first and second quarters, 7,168 and 7,213 incidents respectively were recorded by the cameras.  In total, 3,515 and 3,873 citations respectively were issued in the two quarters.  That's about 45 citations a day, or roughly 14 per camera per day (before the fourth camera came online).

To give a further breakdown, for the second quarter, 2,673 of the 7,213 incidents were rejected after review by an officer.  Another 662 incidents were not processed "due to technical issues or lack of information."  And the remaining incidents, as mentioned resulted in citations

Citizens have found it increasingly hard to argue their innocence in the face of glaring video evidence.  This is especially true in the case of rolling stops (slowing, but not fully stopping when turning at a red light).  Some citizens insisted their innocence, but when showed the video gave up their claims, according to the cops.

Perhaps the good thing for citizens is that the citation is merely a non-moving violation, which carries no points and thus does not raise drivers' insurance.  It weighs in at $50 USD per ticket.  The perhaps interesting part is that the language used by various towns in the state indicate that there's a lower standard of Constitutional protections with such systems.  Lawyers for the towns of Chattanooga and Red Bank (where a similar system is deployed) write, "[Drivers] are not entitled to a trial by jury, a presumption of innocence or a heightened burden of proof."

That's typical for civil offenses, which bear a lower burden of proof.  But its atypical for traffic violations, which often carry a presumption of innocence and allow citizens to request a trial by jury.  The shift is likely due to the light penalty associated with the ticket, but it's worrisome because that penalty could be bumped at some point to a full moving violation.

Two $10M USD suits about the system are pending.  However, these suits, which will be heard in court on September 20, seem unlikely to succeed.  After all, the Tennessee Court of Appeals recently denied complaints about Knoxville, Tennessee's similar camera system.

Another concern is the reliability of such systems.  Students in 2008 in Montgomery County, Maryland used fake license plates to spoof similar systems which gave speeding tickets.  The result was multiple people they pranked receiving traffic fines.

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More needed
By InvertMe on 7/29/2010 10:18:42 AM , Rating: 4
My home town needs this. Every time I visit home I have to remember not to take off quickly at green lights because 3 or 4 people will blow through the red lights at 10-20 mph over the speed limit because waiting for 2 minutes for the next green light just doesn't work for their sense of personal importance.

The city would be rich on no time. As a responsible driver - I welcome these!

RE: More needed
By clovell on 7/29/2010 1:57:09 PM , Rating: 2
For me, in Illinois, there are a lot of lights where left turns can be done on an arrow or a standard green light. Most folks here will pull into the intersection because the breaks in traffic are usually quick, so saving the extra couple seconds will let them get through.

Yellow generally means to clear the intersection, but the guys waiting to turn left have to be sure that oncoming traffic stops before doing so. They also have to pull through once it does stop, otherwise they'll be in the middle of the intersection for cross-traffic.

So, that guy in the sports car that buzzes through the intersection on a yellow light puts the guy waiting to safely turn left in a pickle when there's a red light camera involved.

Drivers are different across the country.

RE: More needed
By Dr of crap on 7/29/2010 3:30:23 PM , Rating: 2
Well if you don't do as the sports car driver does, then you are the minority.
I do this, every one does, and if that's a ticket with this system it's wrong, and the police are making money the wrong way!

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