Cameras along I-85 monitoring commercial vehicle safety

Cameras along I-85 monitoring commercial vehicle safety

MACON CO., AL (WSFA) - Cameras along I-85 Northbound, monitoring your speed or big brother watching? We're talking about the cameras along I-85 North, about a half mile south of exit 22, just before the Shorter Exit.

Several concerned viewers have reached out to WSFA 12 News asking about the devices, so we got some answers straight from the Department of Transportation and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.

Officials say some 36,000 vehicles travel through this stretch of road and 8,000 of those vehicles are commercial vehicles.  Many of those drivers say a flashing green light is startling them but it turns out there's no need to be startled, this is just a partnership between ALDO and ALEA.

"Every time I drive by, I'm going 70, 75mph and when I come by its a big green flash so I think I'm getting a ticket or get something in the mail sooner or later," said one concerned driver in Shorter.

Motorists like James Whitis drive the stretch of road along I-85 northbound every day. "It flashed just a moment ago when I came by," he said.

Whitis thinks that flash is a speeding camera, but Sgt. Steve Jarrett with the Alabama Law Enforcement wants to put those concerns at ease.

"We want to educate the public that this is new technology ALDOT is using that is benefiting state law enforcement," said Sgt. Jarrett.

The cameras and scales along I-85 scan and weigh commercial vehicles, allowing troopers to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.

"Rather than a trooper just ride around burning fuel looking for violations he can come here use this technology that will track violations when one is headed his direction," said Sgt. Jarrett.

It's the newest technology available, the first in a high speed area.

"It takes a picture of their DOT number and the license plate and that's where the light comes from and it researches the data base and puts that information in a database," said Randy Braden, Assistant State Maintenance Engineer, ALDOT.

If there's an infraction, the database will alert a nearby trooper, focusing on commercial vehicle safety and enforcement in real-time, in a time when doing more with less is the norm.

"We're very, very shorthanded the most I've ever seen in my 19 year career so efficiency is key," said Sgt. Jarrett.

ALDOT says they are in the process of getting the cameras certified and when that happens a sign will be put up explaining their purpose. Alabama transportation officials say they have funding set aside for another camera unit.

Officials say these devices are popping up all over the country due to their low operation cost in comparison to weigh stations.  A new weigh station would cost $10-15 million dollars to build while the virtual weigh station cost $300,000 to install.

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