I just received what is known as a "Speed Camera Enforcement Citation" from the City of Chattanooga Police Department.
According to the citation, this program was initiated to "...increase roadway safety and reduce accidents, injuries, and fatalities".
The citation shows a clear picture of my vehicle and tag number and gives the specific location, date and time of the alleged violation.
It also contains specific instructions as to how I can pay the fifty dollar fine or appeal the citation by going to the cities convenient website.
The homepage of the website again asserts that Mayor Littlefield and the City of Chattanooga are concerned over the number of motor vehicle fatalities in the state and have therefore devised a program for Chattanooga that places cameras at selected intersections and roadways that have proven more dangerous than others.
The stated goals of the program are to "...save lives, decrease the number of traffic violations, decrease the number of accidents, injuries and fatalities, and increase public awareness of safe driving behavior..." in Chattanooga.
Although I have seen no reliable information to support the claim that cameras significantly reduce motor vehicle deaths and traffic accidents, or that the cameras and related maintenance and operating expenses are worth the investment of taxpayer dollars, I do believe the goals of the program are admirable.
What is not admirable is the way in which this program has been implemented in Chattanooga.
I say this for two reasons: 1) there are no signs or warnings telling me that the area I was in (6600 NB Lee Hwy) had a higher than normal rate of traffic accidents or that it was monitored by cameras and 2) because of the indisputable fact that sending individual drivers a citation for fifty dollars concerning an alleged incident that occurred two or three weeks earlier does little, if anything to "increase public awareness" and therefore can have little impact on traffic fatalities, accidents, etc.
Common sense would dictate that a program of this type should include signs stating the area had been identified as dangerous due to excessive traffic and speeding and was being monitored by cameras, and that fines would be assessed for speeding violations.
Radio or even TV spots could advise the public of the same thing.
These steps could truly increase public awareness and help accomplish the stated goals of the program.
I can’t help but wonder if Mayor Littlefield or the other city officials who support this idea actually think the majority of Chattanooga taxpayers see this program as anything other than a poorly disguised attempt to garner more money for the city coffers.
It does little to "increase public awareness..." of the problem and does nothing to improve the trust and confidence of city taxpayers toward their government or their police force.
Finally, I could not help but notice the citation and the web site are written in both English and Spanish.
Do we have licensed drivers in Chattanooga who cannot read English?
If so, could that possibly contribute to the increased accidents, etc. that Mayor Littlefield, the City Council and our police force are so concerned about?
Traffic Camera Blues: I'm Just Sayin'