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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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Great stuff
By wiz220 on 7/29/2010 10:58:14 AM , Rating: 3
We have plenty of these cameras where I live and honestly, I wish there was one at every intersection. I can't stand the jackasses that are still turning left in front of me when my light is green. Although it doesn't seem to be a problem at the intersections with cameras.

RE: Great stuff
By fleshconsumed on 7/29/2010 11:14:33 AM , Rating: 2
I would be fine if these cameras were used as intended, i.e. to reduce traffic accidents by catching people who systematically enter intersection on red light. There was an intersection like that at my previous job location just before the highway ramp where people would make a left turn on red in front of me for good 2-4 seconds after my light turned green. However, those cameras are used to catch people who either do a rolling stop while turning right or enter intersection while the light is yellow but can't clear it before the light turns red. Both latter scenarios are bullshit. So until those cameras are used for their intended purpose (at least as it is pitched to us) I'm vehemently against them.

RE: Great stuff
By walk2k on 7/30/2010 2:04:54 PM , Rating: 2
Except you wouldn't get a ticket if you entered the intersection when the light was green, or yellow. I know several intersections where you wouldn't be able to turn left EVER unless you waited in the middle until the light turned yellow/red and the oncoming traffic stopped. This is in fact perfectly legal. Your green light only means you MAY move thru the intersection, taking into respect all traffic and pedestrians that may be in the way. It doesn't mean you can floor the loud pedal and smash into anyone in front of you..

Anyway a redlight camera wouldn't even detect such a situation, it only detects if you crossed the line after it turned red.

Like the article says, the vast majority of these are for people turning right that don't completely stop. You'd have to be an idiot to argue that slowing to .01 mph and looking in all directions, making sure there are no cars or pedestrians, then slowly and carefully turning right, is in ANY way dangerous or deserving of a ticket.

Yet a robo-camera doesn't make any distinction between that and someone who blows thru the intersection at 50mph while talking on the phone and putting on her makeup.

This is why ACUTAL HUMAN BEINGS should be the ones pulling people over and issuing tickets, for things that they SEE driver doing that are ACTUALLY dangerous, not robo-controlled cameras issuing robo-tickets to anyone who stops .00001 inches over the line.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher
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