An Arizona town recently became the first city in the country to use
cameras to monitor speeding and collisions on a state highway.
Concerned about the path the state may be headed down, a group of state
lawmakers are working to rein in the program before it can expand.
The city of Scottsdale received approval late last year from the
Arizona Department of Transportation to install the cameras for nine months at
six locations along a 7.8-mile stretch of Loop 101 from Scottsdale Road to the 90th Street and Pima Road Exit. Since Jan. 22, drivers who exceed the posted 65 mph limit by
at least 11 mph have had photos snapped of their vehicles.
Until Feb. 22, speeders will be sent warnings. After that, violators
will receive fines that will average $157, The
Arizona Republic reported.
Among the legislation offered to rein in the Scottsdale enforcement
program is an effort by Sen. Thayer Verschoor, R-Gilbert, to prohibit the use
of the technology on state highways.
However, Verschoor has agreed to amend his bill to ensure the city can
complete its nine-month demonstration.
The bill – SB1146 – passed the Senate Transportation Committee and has
been forwarded to the full Senate for further debate.
The Scottsdale program is also being used to spin off other bills that
would affect enforcement cameras on other area roadways, The Republic reported.
Rep. Pamela Gorman, R-Anthem, is concerned that the cameras will make drivers
nervous, causing them to brake suddenly and “change lanes erratically.”
She wants all revenue from tickets routed 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.
And Rep. Andy Gibbs, R-Gilbert, has offered a bill that would authorize
the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles to charge municipalities $200 for
processing each camera-triggered enforcement citation.
Meanwhile, the Senate Transportation Committee voted Tuesday, Feb. 14,
to kill a handful of measures offered by Sen. Dean Martin, R-Phoenix, targeting
camera use on streets and highways.
Among the measures offered by Martin was a bill that sought to allot
$15 million from the State Highway Transportation Fund to hire 100 more
officers. Martin said the additional officers would have been enough to
adequately patrol Valley freeways and eliminate the need for speed cameras on
any state freeway.
However, another bill from Martin remains active that would provide
additional funding for the state police. It would use any profits made by the
program to hire additional officers and equipment.
Another failed effort required the Arizona Department of Weights and
Measures to randomly check the accuracy of hundreds of speed and red-light
cameras operating in Valley cities every six months.
The panel cited fears that Martin’s bills would take away local control
as the reason for voting against the measures.