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The blind reformer Part III, the victory over public safety

The Editorial staff of the Knoxville News Sentinel has penned yet another in the series of “Can I carry your water Mr. Mayor” Editorials. Except this time it is a different Mayor, it is Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam. Bonus points for also carrying the water of the Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen IV.

The subject of this waste of ink and paper is how the defeat of a bill in the General Assembly that would require 5 second Yellow Lights where there are Red Light cameras is a victory for public safety. It is not a victory for the people, it is a victory for the revenuers.

C.E. Petro at “Thoughts of an Average Woman” has more as does Joe Powell at “A Cup of Joe Powell”. Over on KnoxViews a poll shows 97% of 77 respondents prefer a 5 second Yellow Light over a 3 second Yellow Light.

The Red Light cameras from RedFlex Inc. have been a stunning success. With over 62,000 violations the City of Knoxville and RedFlex are in the money with much more money just around the corner. Both the News Sentinel and the City of Knoxville know that increasing the Yellow Light duration from 4 seconds to 5.5 seconds reduces Red Light tickets by 96%. You can read the Virginia study here that proves just that. It also makes intersections safer, something that Police Chief Owen says he wants. Yet for some unknown reason he will not support a safe Yellow Light duration.

Which is worse in this Editorial? The glee the News Sentinel has that the bill was “properly killed”, or the closing line, “It would have been better for the lawmakers to seek those answers directly from city officials before trying to make a circus out of a serious traffic issue”? What kind of writer uses “properly killed” in an Editorial about public safety? The News Sentinel goes on to say, “The Tennessee Legislature certainly has better things to do than second guess and micromanage Knoxville’s decision to use traffic-light cameras to ticket speeding motorists.”

Let’s be clear about this. This is not “micromanagement”. The Tennessee Legislature had to step in because the Mayor and the Police Chief have put revenue over public safety. Yet the pressure from the public is beginning to show. The Sentinel quotes Police Chief Owen, “Owen said he was not necessarily opposed to a longer yellow-light time if it can have a positive effect on reducing accidents, although he acknowledged the matter was more for traffic engineering than law enforcement. Let traffic engineering follow it up, then, perhaps giving the benefit of any doubt to motorists and increase the yellow-light time where warranted.”

So what exactly does Police Chief Owen mean? Does he mean if enough people are hurt then the traffic engineering people will increase the Yellow Light duration? Do people have to get hurt for the City to do the right thing? We live in a place of unaccountability. Neither the Mayor nor Police Chief Owen have any accountability for public safety, only the few people in the City traffic engineering department? Wonder if those poor people in traffic engineering are under orders from high above?

2 Responses to “The blind reformer Part III, the victory over public safety”

  1. Dave Says:

    I’m waiting to see if/when the cameras themselves will be targeted like the speed cameras in the UK.

  2. chris Says:

    The defeat of the bill was a victory for municipal revenue, not for public safety.

    The KNS has a history of doing puff piece articles on matters supported by the sitting mayor, which certainly pre-dates Bill Haslam’s term.

    I cannot remember the last time I read a KNS editorial.

    My puppies put the KNS to its highest and best use.