Knoxville (WVLT) - If you're guilty of trying to get through a traffic light at the last second, a new tool now in use in Knoxville may slow you down.

The first traffic-light camera is now online. If it catches you, you might end up paying a $50 fine.

Volunteer TV's Whitney Daniel explains why police are using this type of system.

After a two-year study of accidents at certain intersections in Knoxville, police chose the top ten most dangerous for the cameras.

The intersection at Kingston Pike and Alcoa Highway, for example, witnessed more than 40 accidents in the past two years with almost half of those being angle crashes.

And police aren't out to get you, there are signs leading up to the camera enforced intersections. They say this project focuses on safety.

"More people are injured or killed in traffic accidents than actually violent crimes in our area," says Knoxville Police Captain Gordon Catlett.

That's why these cameras are so important.

"It shows the position of the vehicle in relation to the intersection," Captain Catlett explains.

"That's probably a good safety measure. A lot of people runs them yellow lights, so it might save some wrecks," says Clinton King, a Knoxville motorist.

That's the idea. Especially T-Bone wrecks, the most dangerous and the most common at intersections.

"Unfortunately, most vehicles can't withstand much impact from the side, there's very little protection," says Capt. Catlett.

However, police hope these cameras could help provide the protection you need.

"When you're driving and people run the orange or red light and it causes a car accident... it causes a lot of injuries to children or animals in the car. So, I think it will make people on the roadways a lot safer," says another Knoxville motorist.

At least ten spots will be safer.

"There's no reason the vehicle should continue through the intersection," Catlett says.

The cameras capture 12 seconds of video, monitoring ten different Knoxville intersections.

"These particular intersections have an unusually high occurrence of angle crashes that can be attributed to failing to yield the right-of-way or disregarding traffic signals," says Capt. Catlett.

The camera takes a picture of your plate, if you run through the intersection after the light turns red in every instance. But, that doesn't mean you'll automatically get a ticket. First, KPD officers will review the tape. If they determine you're at fault, that's when the ticket goes into the mail.

Police hope the red-light cameras stop accidents.

The fine for running a red light is $50.

If you lend someone your car and they get a ticket, you have the option of turning in their information to police, but if your friend refuses to pay, it's ultimately your responsibility.

You also have the right to appeal the ticket if you're cited.

Monday begins a 30 day warning period. So you will get a warning instead of a ticket in the mail, but they are watching.


Other Story

Cameras at Knoxville intersections catch red light runners
Cameras at Knoxville intersections catch red light runners
Sound Off
What do you think about this story? Join the discussion.

April 24, 2006

6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- The first set of 10 red light cameras is up and running at the intersection of Cumberland Avenue and Alcoa Highway.

Capt. Gordon Catlett, with the Knoxville Police Department, explains how it works. "There are actually sensors in the road so that when a car crosses the white line after the light turns red, a camera snaps a picture."

And that's not all. The system is also equipped with a video camera.

Catlett says, "That information is sent electronically to Red Flex Traffic Systems, who verifies the information requests a records check through Nashville and the registered owner of the vehicle."

Once the data is collected, it goes to the police department so an officer can verify the violation and mail a citation.

The owner can pay the fine or appeal. Catlett says the citation does not affect the points on a driver's license.

Nine other intersections will get systems soon.

While police say their number one priority is safety, this system isn't costing the city one dime. In fact, it's a money-maker.

Chief Sterling Owen, IV says "It's a $50 ticket if one pays it on time and it will split 85 percent to the vendor, 15 percent to the city up until a threshold number of tickets being written per intersection."

Eventually, the vendor and the city will split the ticket money 50-50.

There is a 30-day grace period, starting the day of activation, so police will send warning letters to all offenders, letting them know they've been caught.

You can look for the cameras at the following locations in the coming months:

Cedar Bluff Road and I-40 Westbound Exit
Henley Street and Cumberland Avenue
Kingston Pike and Alcoa Highway Southbound Exit
Cedar Bluff Road and Peters Road
Kingston Pike and Alcoa Highway Northbound Exit
Henley Street and Clinch Avenue
Lovell Road and I-40 Westbound Exit
Henley Street/Broadway and Western Avenue/Summit Hill
Kingston Pike and Papermill Drive
Clinton Highway and Tillery Road

The reason police selected those intersections is because they have the highest number of angle crashes.

Capt. Catlett says angle crashes, such a T-bones are caused by drivers running red lights.

If you would like more information on the Knoxville Red Light Photo Enforcement Program, you can call the Customer Service Center toll-free at (877) 84-SAFE-T.