Arizona to Eliminate Speed Cameras on Highways
PHOENIX - Arizona is ending a groundbreaking and contentious program that put speed cameras along Phoenix-area freeways and in vans deployed across the state, according to Yahoo News.
Opponents have argued the cameras open the door for wider "Big Brother" surveillance and are more about making money than safety. The program has been the target of an initiative measure proposed for the November ballot.
Even Gov. Jan Brewer has said she doesn't like the cameras, and her intention to end the program was first disclosed in her January budget proposal. That was followed by a non-renewal letter sent by the Arizona Department of Public Safety this week to the private company that runs the program.
Scottsdale-based Redflex said May 6 that the 36 fixed cameras will be turned off and the 40 vans taken off highways on July 16, the day after its state contract expires.
The non-renewal letter was first reported by The Arizona Republic.
The camera program was instituted by Brewer's predecessor, Janet Napolitano, now the Homeland Security secretary. Cameras were introduced in September 2008 and were added until all 76 were up and running by January 2009.
Lawmakers considered repeal proposals within months, but set the issue aside and appealed for calmer debate when a passing motorist fatally shot a camera-van operator doing paperwork in his marked vehicle in April 2009, according to Yahoo.
The mobile and fixed cameras snap the photos of speeders going 11 mph or over the speed limit, and violators get tickets in the mail. Supporters said the cameras slow down drivers, reduce accidents, and free up law-enforcement officers for serious criminals.
Napolitano estimated the program would bring in $90 million revenue in its first year, but actual revenue fell far short as many motorists ignored notices received in the mail.
While hundreds of jurisdictions across the country use speed cameras and some states have limited programs using cameras in certain areas, Arizona's statewide deployment remained the widest state use of the technology.
The state's decision is a setback for supporters of speed-enforcement cameras, said Jonathan Adkins, a spokesman for the Washington-based Governors Highway Safety Association.
"We need to look and see what happened in Arizona why didn't it work," he said.
The end of the state program does not affect local governments' use of cameras for speed enforcement, but the proposed ballot measure would prohibit state and local governments from using cameras for both speed violations and red-light running, reported Yahoo.
Arizona lawmakers approved legislation this year that imposes new signage requirements and other changes for the program, reported Yahoo.