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Arizona Legislators Try to Thwart Plans for Photo-Radar Cameras

February 13, 2008

PHOENIX, Ariz. --- Arizona state legislators took steps this week to block Governor Janet Napolitano's plans to introduce photo-radar speed-limit enforcement throughout the state.

The Senate Transportation Committee voted 3-2 to prohibit any type of photo-radar system to identify speeding motorists on Arizona roads, Capitol Media Services reported. This bill (SB1470), if it passes, would be subject to the governor's veto.

But two other measures OK'd by the panel, if approved by legislators, would be placed on the November ballot for voters to decide. They wouldn't be subject to the governor's veto. SCR 1032 seeks to prohibit the use of photo-enforcement systems to catch speed violators. SCR 1033, a backup measure, stipulates that if the state does in fact use photo radar, speeding tickets could be issued only to those driving faster than what 85 percent of motorists normally travel.

Currently, the Department of Public Safety programs its photo radar cameras to identify anyone driving at least 11 miles over the limit.

Senator Ron Gould (R-Lake Havasu City), who spearheaded the effort to block Napolitano's plans, challenged the notion that photo-radar enforcement makes highways safer. He argued that the governor's plan, which calls for the Department of Public Safety to use 100 photo-radar cameras both fixed and mobile, is really motivated by her desire to generate more state revenue through traffic tickets. Gould noted that Napolitano's proposed spending plan for the next year assumes that the state will collect $90 million in photo-radar fines, Capitol Media Services reported.

Department of Public Safety Lt. Bob Ticer challenged Gould's arguments. Ticer said photo-radar systems do, in fact, create safer roads. He cited a nine-month program in Scottsdale that set up fixed cameras along a portion of the Loop 101 freeway. Ticer said that average speeds along that stretch dropped nearly 10 mph, sideswipe crashes were reduced by 58 percent, one-vehicle accidents were down 71 percent, and total injuries were down 41 percent. "This is technology that has been working," he told the committee.

The Department of Public Safety is actually seeking bids for 170 photo-radar units. Some would be used to catch people running red lights, though.



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