Godwin, Morris, Laurenzi & Bloomfield, P.C.

Red-light camera supporters say they reduce car accidents

There is a continuing debate in Tennessee regarding the usefulness of red-light cameras. One member of the legislature plans to try and have them outlawed, whereas other interested persons claim that the devices help to increase driver safety and reduce the number of car accidents. Some cities in Tennessee use the cameras to ticket those who run red lights, and other cities use them to ticket speeders.

Opponents to the cameras say that they have nothing to do with safety and are based on municipal greed. They call it an unlawful form of raising funds on the backs of local citizens. Members of the legislature have tried to ban the cameras for several years but have failed.

Reportedly, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has concluded that intersections with such cameras have fewer "T-bone" accidents, where a driver or passenger takes the full impact of a collision. Supporters of the cameras also point to findings of a Texas A&M University study indicating that when cameras were placed in the worst intersections, there was up to a 33 percent drop in serious accidents. Nonetheless, opponents succeeded in getting the legislature to limit ticket amounts to a maximum of $50 and to require approval by a police officer and issuance of the charges within 10 days.

From the perspective of the victims of car accidents, the cameras are saving lives and lowering the numbers of those who will have to suffer serious personal injuries. Once an accident occurs, however, the issue of prevention by cameras becomes a moot issue. The law of civil tort liability in Tennessee then governs whether an injured claimant is entitled to compensation for his or her injuries. That inquiry is based on negligence -- as a general rule, a defendant is responsible for the financial damages regarding anyone directly injured from the defendant's negligent or reckless driving.

Source: columbiadailyherald.com, "Red-light and speed cameras back on the legislature's agenda", Richard Locker, Jan. 17, 2015

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