A look at where photo-enforced speeding ticket revenue goes

Many Tennesseans are unsure if they should pay a speeding ticket issued by a traffic camera.

Last week, State Rep. Andy Holt posted a video to Facebook in which he burned a traffic citation. Under state law, not paying them won’t affect your insurance or driving record. But, you could still face a civil penalty.

All the revenue from those tickets in Union City goes right back to the streets.

Scottie Hayes is going to National Guard training camp for a few weeks, but he says he hopes he’ll have a safer road when he returns to his Union City home. "I know all my neighbors are very excited about it. I’m very excited about it," Hayes said.

$1.2 million in paving is on the way for 46 city roads. City Manager Kathy Dillon says nearly half of that, $482,000, came from two years of traffic tickets. Despite growing frustration with them, she thinks it’s unethical to not pay the fine.

“(Drivers) pay attention to the speed limits. They pay attention to their intersection, and I think we’re all a little bit safer because of them,” Dillon said.

Police Chief Perry Barfield had about four officers on the ground Wednesday. He says with a force that size, the cameras free up manpower. He doesn’t think they’ve hurt the city. “I don’t want you here if you’re going to speed in my town and endanger my life, my family’s life, and the life of other people,” Barfield told me.

Hayes doesn’t like the cameras, but does like the new road. “Somebody needs to come up with a different or better way to pull in that same income for the county,” Hayes says. 

It’s a growing debate at least until the city’s contract is up in 2027. In 2010, when the cameras were installed, Union City averaged about 70 injury wrecks a year. Barfield says that number is fewer than 50 now. The speeding cameras were banned in Tennessee in 2015, although many city contracts were grandfathered in. Stop light cameras have not been banned. 

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