Councilwoman wants Oak Ridge traffic cameras gone

Councilwoman wants Oak Ridge traffic cameras gone


6 News Reporter

OAK RIDGE (WATE) - An Oak Ridge city councilwoman wants proof that traffic enforcement cameras help keep drivers safe.

Last summer, Oak Ridge installed a mix of red light and speed cameras at five locations. Three of them are in school zones.

The cameras have racked up lots of tickets, but also complaints that the program is nothing more than a cash cow for the city and the camera contractor, Redflex.

"You have drivers who are irritated, aggravated which I think makes a less safer driver," said Councilwoman Anne Garcia Garland, the newest Oak Ridge city council member.

Garland was elected after the traffic cameras were set up. She says they are invasive and unnecessary.

"The statistics have not been done to justify any of the cameras," Garland added.

Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan voted for the cameras and on Friday he still says it was the right decision. "The ones in public safety have said it has slowed down the culture of speed," he said.

Mayor Beehan also points out that tickets have significantly decreased.

In October 2009 there were 5,387 citations mailed. Most were speeding violations. This September, 3361 tickets were issued.

However, Garland is not impressed. "People are slowing down in front of the cameras, then they are speeding up past the cameras in order to make up time," she said.

Mayor Beehan maintains his stance.

"Here is what the police department says. Here is what the firefighters say. Here is what the school board says. They think it has been helpful in creating the safe environment for our children. When I hear that that's all the statistics I need," he said.

"I don't take their word for what they believe has happened. I don't think we should," Garland said.

Instead Garland is asking for specific and significant data to back up the cameras.

The traffic cameras have generated more than $2 million.

Garland is hoping to discuss the controversial issue during the city's next work session.

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