Recently, Knoxville's red-light districts came under fire in the state legislature. The premise of camera's at red lights is to reduce accidents, but, all the while it also increases revenue. One of the problems with Knoxville's red-light cameras, that I briefly discuss, is that the yellow light is set at 3 seconds (at camera intersections), and studies have shown that lengthening the yellow light to 4.5 - 5 seconds also reduces accidents. What interested me about the bill regulating red-light cameras was how it addressed the privatization of our police department.
However, any more substantive discussion has ended this year. Mayor Haslam is no longer being forced, by the proposed bill, to address lengthening yellow lights, and contracting the collections of red-light tickets to a private company.
Legislation imposing restrictions on the use of cameras to ticket motorists running red lights was killed by a House subcommittee Tuesday after debate between Knoxville's police chief and the bill's sponsor.
Now, in my original post, I mention that yellow-light studies seemingly didn't have much impact on Knoxville's decision to install red-light cameras. And, I think I unfortunately stumbled on something.
But when questioned by Rep. Joe McCord, R-Maryville, sponsor of the bill, Owen acknowledged that at least one study indicates that a longer yellow signal reduces the number of motorists running the light.
McCord said a Texas study shows that adding one second to the yellow light time reduced tickets for running red lights by 53 percent and accidents by 40 percent. Owen, while saying he did not know of that specific study, knew of a case were red-light violations were reduced by around 36 percent with increased yellow time.
[...]The chief said timing of the light sequence "is a traffic engineering question, not a police question." He said the city was not necessarily opposed to increasing yellow light time, especially if that can be shown to have a positive effect in reducing accidents.
Hmm, so Owen only remembers/reads certain yellow light studies? From a link in my previous post link, I found a list of studies that support the lengthening of yellow lights. It appears that there is sufficient information being put out for anyone to read that lengthening yellow lights reduces accidents. That being the case, why is the city not moving on that, unless the underlying issue is increased revenue? Revenue gathering by Knoxville was my assertion from the beginning.
It isn't surprising that groups like the IIHT don't support lengthening yellow lights. But, we should also look at the Virginia study which shows an increase in rear-end crashes. Owens points out that Virginia is using red-light cameras -- they have 7. But, they are evaluating them, and there is a report to their Dept of Transportation. Is Knoxville reporting to someone, anyone? If so, is that report public information?
I'm disappointed that it doesn't appear there were any discussions on the privatization issue included in the bill.