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Council Debating Traffic Cameras

By Natalie Potts
By Npotts@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn. - A debate is growing between the Jackson City Council and the Jackson Police Department about the successes of the traffic cameras. The question is whether traffic light cameras increase or decrease driver safety.

Council members are on both sides of the argument.

Many residents argue the cameras are dangerous because they are unsure if they should speed up or slow down when crossing intersections equipped with photo enforcement.

"It's a very controversial issue," said Vicky Foote, District One Council member.

Council members said it is an issue of driver safety. While police reported the number of serious wrecks with injuries have decreased since the cameras have been installed, the report also shows an increase in minor wrecks and fender benders.

"We were told by the police department while some of the serious accidents have decreased at those intersections the fender benders and the rear endings have increased," said Foote.

Now council members are approving an engineering phase for the Jackson Photo Safety Program that may lead to the addition of more cameras along the Highway 45 Bypass.

"It's going to look at all of the traffic flow and design of the roadway and look at potential violations," said Lt. Ronald Adams, Jackson Police Department.

Police said the video also gives officers another set of eyes to help determine who is at fault in a crash. The footage is frequently used as evidence to prosecute in DUI and vehicular homicide cases.

After the engineering phase, Adams said the plan is to add additional cameras to some troubled intersections engineers feel need more enforcement. One of the intersections that is at the top of that list is the traffic light connecting Airways Boulevard and the Highway 45 Bypass.

"Angle crashes in intersections are the crashes that produce the very serious injuries and fatalities, typically that's what we want to stop," said Adams.

Some drivers want the cameras taken down because it causes more trouble on the roadways.

" A lot of people slam on their breaks trying to avoid that ticket when it might of been safer to go on through the yellow light," said driver Steven Foster.

Some argue more cameras will disrupt the flow of traffic and ultimately increase driving stress. "If they put cameras up everywhere, I'm pretty sure there are going to be a couple more wrecks," said resident Kevin Ciggers.

"You're always thinking about slamming on your breaks or waiting on a yellow light just hoping that you don't get hit from the back end," said Ciggers.

Since the traffic cameras have been installed police said more than 43,000 people have been issued at least one violation and more than 5,000 have been a repeat offender.