3/30/2015Tennessee Lawmakers Water Down Traffic Camera Ban
Instead of banning traffic cameras, bill would increase yellow times and speeding ticket thresholds.
The "Tennessee Freedom From Traffic Cameras Act" will not be doing as much to protect motorists from predatory enforcement as the title might suggest. Defenders of the lucrative automated enforcement industry took to the state capitol last week to ensure friendly leislators would vote for amendments taking away the bill's bite. The bill, as introduced, predicted this outcome in its preamble.
"Whereas those who profit from traffic cameras are continuously lobbying to raise fines, remove restrictions, and introduce new types cameras for common 'technical violations,' which have little or nothing to do with safety, and because of the revenue the cameras create, Tennessean tax dollars are being spent by some local governments to lobby to block legislation which would restore the constitutional rights of Tennesseans," House Bill 1372 stated. "No municipality or county may contract with any person or entity to provide for the use of any unmanned traffic enforcement camera to enforce or monitor any traffic violations."
In the State Senate Transportation and Safety Committee, the bill passed by a 6 to 1 vote, but only after the above provision was deleted and replaced with a provision mandating longer yellow times and a higher minimum speed threshold for ticketing. The state House Finance Ways and Means subcommittee voted last Wednesday to defer action on the measure.
State Senator Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) filed the amendment that forbids ticketing at any intersection with a yellow time shorter than 6.0 seconds. This is the longest yellow time allowed under federal regulations, and is generally recommended only for high-speed intersections. Another provision of Tracy's amendment forbids private companies from mailing a speed camera citation to any vehicle unless the device claims the car was traveling at least 15 MPH over the speed limit.
While not a ban, proponents of the measure argue the measure would complement an existing state law forbidding red light camera ticketing of cars making rolling right turns on red and eliminate the most common sort of technical violations that municipalities have relied upon to generate millions in citation revenue.
Currently, Georgia and Ohio have the toughest yellow timing laws in the nation, mandating a one second increase in timing at any intersection with photo enforcement. Investigations by TheNewspaper have shown this slashed ticketing by 80 percent in Georgia and by more than half in Ohio.
A copy of the amended Senate bill is available in a 40k PDF file at the source link below.