Speed cameras in Arizona town draw ire of state officials

| 1/9/2006

With an Arizona town only about two weeks away from becoming the first city in the country to use cameras to monitor speeding and collisions on a state highway, state lawmakers are looking to rein in the program before it starts.

Among the legislation proposed is an effort by Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, to prevent Scottsdale, AZ, from digitally patrolling a 7.8-mile stretch of Loop 101. It also would prevent some revenue from citations from being rerouted to other state funds.

The Scottsdale photo enforcement program is also being used to spin off other bills that would affect enforcement cameras on other area roadways, The Arizona Republic reported.

The city received approval last month from the Arizona Department of Transportation to install cameras for nine months at six locations from Scottsdale Road to the 90th Street and Pima Road Exit. As of Jan. 22, drivers who exceed the posted 65 mph limit by at least 11 mph will have photos snapped of their vehicles.

For the first 30 days, speeders will be sent warnings. After that, violators are subject to fines.

Pearce said he isn’t happy about the precedent Scottsdale is setting.

“Scottsdale is out of control,” he told The Republic. “They have no jurisdiction on a state freeway.”

Pearce’s proposal would allow Scottsdale to oversee the portion of the highway that extends beyond 90th Street to near McKellips Road. The city would be responsible for repairs and enforcement on the highway.

Rep. Pamela Gorman, R-Anthem, has offered her own solution.

She is concerned that the cameras will make drivers nervous, causing them to brake suddenly and “change lanes erratically.”

Her effort would force Scottsdale to route all revenue from tickets into a state transportation fund for highway safety in case the state is held liable for accidents attributed to the cameras, the newspaper reported.

Rep. David Burnell Smith, R-Scottsdale, is sponsoring a bill that would reduce the fine for those caught speeding by automated systems from $157 to $100. No points would be added to speeders’ licenses and their insurance companies wouldn’t be notified.

Rep. Michele Reagan, R-Scottsdale, and Sen. Dean Martin, R-Phoenix, are working on a bill that would require any profits made by the program be used to hire additional officers and equipment for the state police.