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This blog is authored by Mark Hinesley, Chamber President/CEO
3 minutes reading time (694 words)

The return of red light cameras?

I’m sure that many if not most in the Nashville area recently read or heard about the tragic death of a Metro Police Officer helping with traffic control on I-65 just south of Nashville. Following that horrible and avoidable loss of life there were many posts, tweets, and other social media notes imploring drivers to move over when passing by emergency vehicles on the side of the road. I’d imagine that at least for a while there will be some improvement. If this is like a lot of other things, I’d also imagine that it won’t likely be a long term solution. I do not make my living on the highway, I seldom drive long distances for business, nor do I even use the Interstate to commute to work. I do however spend a reasonable amount of my leisure time canvasing our beautiful state visiting points of interest.

This past weekend I had a thought; one that many in our community may be able to relate to. A few years ago the City of Mt Juliet installed those somewhat unpopular red light cameras. While the pros and cons of having them at high-traffic intersections inside the city limits received plenty of ink in the local papers, perhaps when true life and death consequences are ever present, they could be considered? What if these were converted into a slightly different use in temporary conditions? Someone a bit smarter than me could surely reconfigure them to snap photos and record videos of people racing thru construction zones or not moving over for emergency vehicles. Obviously not all police cars could realistically have access to them, but I bet they could mount one on the back of those bright green emergency vehicles that often pull up right behind officers on the side of the road. I’d also imagine they could be easily mounted on temporary poles as drivers enter construction zones. Some of these construction zones such as work on the Interstates and the bridgework like Highway 109 can last well over a year or two. What if every construction worker in these zones or emergency workers on the scene of an accident had some type of early-warning device (think of a pager type device that vibrated, sirens activated, lights begin flashed, etc.) immediately alerting them that a vehicle is entering their area at an excessive speed?

There was plenty of debate over the use of the cameras in Mt Juliet which took a lot of photos and videos of vehicles rolling thru or not completely stopping for right hand turns and running red lights. Ultimately these became such political liabilities that they were removed. Would there be near as much pushback from the public if those speeding in construction zones or not pulling over in emergency situations received tickets (or even warnings) in the mail? Maybe, maybe not; but in the absence of any better solutions being proposed it may be work at least considering. I realize that there are many, many obstacles to such a program. We seem to be able to spontaneously capture literally everything else on video these days, why not make this technology work in our favor and perhaps even help save lives?

The next time you see someone on TV or you read an article reporting on the next tragic death of a construction worker or emergency personnel claiming that this nonsense has to stop and that we will do “everything” possible to avoid future such deaths, think about this and then ask yourself “have they really done everything”? Let’s all slow down and be just a bit safer this summer. I hope you will join me right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and be sure to visit us 24/7 at www.mtjulietchamber.com.

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