Cell phone video of long waits at red light has driver looking for answers

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. A driver noticed he was sitting at a light for unusually long periods of time. Fed up -- he recorded video of his time waiting for the light to change. Dumbfounded at the amount of time he sat waiting -- he brought the video to WVLT and we went looking for answers from the city.

Video shows the moment the driver gets to the turn on the eastbound I-40 exit ramp and Old Weisgarber Rd. For five minutes nothing changes. We went to the people in charge of traffic lights and intersections for the City of Knoxville.

"On a daily basis we receive complaints from citizens, from our elected officials, from our administration that we have equipment failures," says Jeff Brown, chief traffic engineer for the city.

These traffic engineers don't mind the complaints though, he says. It's how they know what to fix.

"We have technicians that are available 24/7," he says.

They admit it's not easy keeping up with a system that's over 25 years old and has lots of electrical components already scheduled for replacement.

"Oftentimes it might be the result of an electrical storm or power outage, in which case the signal automatically does go into modes of operation that are possibly confusing to a motorist," says Brown.

So what do you do if you're trapped at a light or if parts of an intersection are malfunctioning? When can you run the red light and move on?

"According to state law, it's illegal at any time to run a red light," says Darrell Debusk with the Knoxville Police Department. "If possible, maybe making a right hand turn and doing a u-turn, a safe u-turn, and then coming back to the intersection and continuing on your trip."

"Under no circumstances should you just run through the signal. You should obey the rules," reiterates Brown.

Soon after bringing attention to the the frozen traffic light Local 8 News saw results.

"We did find a problem with the detection system. That has been repaired," assured Brown.

Something that will help drivers get to work on time.

If you see a problem the city says call 311 - but if an intersection or road's non-working light is a safety hazard to other drivers - dial 911. They have crews standing by 24/7.

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