Mount Carmel plans to use cameras to catch speeders

Jeff Bobo • Apr 2, 2007 at 1:21 AM

MOUNT CARMEL - Last week the Mount Carmel Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a plan to install traffic enforcement cameras in town.

It was the second time since December 2005 that the BMA approved such a plan, but this time it appears that the cameras will actually be installed.

Shortly after the BMA initially approved a plan with another company in December 2005, the board appointed a committee to give it more study.

Last Tuesday the committee, which is chaired by Alderman Carl Wolfe, gave a report to the BMA recommending that the town accept a photo traffic enforcement proposal submitted by Redflex Traffic Systems Inc.

Town Attorney Joe May will look over the Redflex contract before it is signed by the mayor, but Police Chief Jeff Jackson said the cameras could be in place sometime this summer.

"They're telling us they could have the cameras up between 30 and 45 days after they get the contract signed," Jackson said. "So if we get the contract back from the attorney in about 30 days, we're looking at two to three months before its up and running."

Jackson said he wants to make it clear to the community that the traffic enforcement cameras are not being installed as a moneymaking ploy. He said the goal is for motorists traveling on Highway 11-W to drive the speed limit.

"If those cameras do exactly what they're supposed to do nobody will make any money, and I would like that," Jackson said. "What we're trying to do is make that two-mile stretch of 11-W safer so that we're not having the accidents that we're used to here at our six 11-W intersections. The speed is not what's causing the accidents. It's the people pulling out from the intersections. But the speed is what's causing the accidents to be so bad. So if we can lower that speed, the accidents we have here might not be so severe."

One day last month, Jackson and Wolfe sat along 11-W in Jackson's patrol car shooting radar to detect how many cars were speeding. Within an hour they detected 27 cars traveling in excess of 66 mph.

"Say for example, at 66 mph we would issue a ticket (on the photo enforcement)," Wolfe told the BMA last Tuesday. "In one hour we could have written 27 tickets. It take an officer seven to eight minutes by the time he stops the car and writes the ticket, so the photo enforcement would be able to catch the speeders that our officers would miss."

Jackson said it has yet to be determined what speed limit will be set in the cameras before they issue a ticket, although he said it will be a little over the speed limit of 55 mph. The cameras will be stationed on both sides of town on 11-W, and there will also be a mobile camera unit.

Signs will be posted well in advance before the photo enforcement takes effect.

The town fines motorists $50 for municipal speeding citations, and the town doesn't inform motorist liability insurance companies with speeding ticket information.

Jackson said the deal tentatively agreed upon with Redflex calls for the company to receive $45 for the first 100 citations each month, and the town would receive $25 for the second 100 citations each month. After 200 citations in a month, the town would receive $45 each.

Last year another company that was being considered for this project conducted a study on 11-W and determined that 72 percent of vehicles that passed through Mount Carmel on 11-W exceeded 55 mph. Of those speeders, 55 percent were clocked above 70 mph.

"Our ultimate goal is to eliminate all accidents on 11-W, and we have shown over the past three or four years that added enforcement on that two-mile stretch has reduced the accidents," Jackson said.

Recommended for You

    Kingsport Times News Videos