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First Anniversary for Red Light Cameras

By: Jim Freeman
By: Jim Freeman

Knoxville (WVLT) - When this type of picture arrives in your mailbox, it includes a citation and it doesn't bring a smile to your face.

Thousands of you know instantly that I'm talking about photos from Knoxville's traffic light cameras.

Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of the first camera at Cumberland Avenue and Alcoa Highway.

That's one-year later and several thousand pictures and citations later.

Some don't like the fact that big brother's watching, but police say there's no doubt, you're a lot safer, at least at this intersection.

Knoxville Police say because of the traffic cameras, it's a safer intersection at Cumberland Avenue and Alcoa Highway.

"We've noticed a significant decrease in overall accidents at our red light camera intersections as well as a large decrease in angle or what some people refer to as T-bone crashes," says Knoxville Police Captain Gordon Catlett.

Safer, it may be, but some still don't care for the red light photos.

"I'm not a huge fan," says UT Student Kady Amundson. "I think we have some that flash when you turn right on red which I don't really understand, and I'm not a big fan of the cameras."

Even though the traffic cams fan club is not winning over every driver, the overall numbers speak for themselves with close to 29,000 incidents in 2006.

"We've actually recorded 8,958 incidents by both approaches at this particular intersection," says Captain Catlett.

"I would say some people still run it, but I would say more people are inclined to stop instead of running it," Knoxville motorist Ashley Anders says.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but these pictures are worth $50 a pop, and they're most convincing to those who unknowingly pose.

"Yea, I got caught by it," admits Joseph Penny. "I got caught by it last summer."

Captain Catlett notes that those captured on film "now" think twice when it comes to approaching intersections. "For the first week of the initial camera placement on Kingston Pike, one approach recorded over 250 incidents for one week. That same approach for the last week of December in 2006 recorded fewer than 40 incidents."

"It makes me more aware now, I guess, with it being there. I definitely go a little slower through the light on my way down Kingston," says Penny.

One year later, the cameras are still snapping day and night, rain or shine.

The 15th red light camera goes into operation Wednesday at the stroke of midnight at the intersection of Morrell Road and Kingston Pike. And with that comes the 30-day warning period that also begins at the same time.


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