Arizona bill would rein in photo radar usage

| 2/9/2009

A bill on the move in the Arizona House would prohibit the use of speed cameras on highways.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted 5-2 to advance a bill that would shut down a new program launched in the fall by the Department of Public Safety to post photo speed cameras on highways around the state.

The program was a pet project of former Gov. Janet Napolitano, who resigned this past month to become chief of the Department of Homeland Security. She hoped to eventually deploy a total of 170 mobile and stationary enforcement cameras and red-light cameras along state roads.

Napolitano touted the use of speed cameras statewide since the city of Scottsdale used them for a nine-month period along a stretch of Loop 101. She said the cameras that dotted a 7.8-mile stretch of the highway from Scottsdale Road to Shea Boulevard appeared to alter the behavior of drivers.

Critics of the enforcement tool, including officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, question the claim that cameras are solely intended to keep people safe.

“The motivation of every player in this deal is economics. Whether it’s the local jurisdiction or the manufacturer, that’s not reasonable justification for doing that,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer told Land Line.

Spencer’s remarks about the cameras being a revenue generator appear to be supported by a state projection that the program could net $90 million in its first partial year of operation, The Arizona Republic reported.

Sponsored by Rep. Sam Crump, R-Anthem, the bill would ban state or local cameras on state highways. However, cameras posted by municipalities or counties on local streets or roads would be unaffected.

The bill – HB2106 – is awaiting clearance in the House Rules Committee before advancing to the full House. However, it is only one of several measures in the statehouse to eliminate or restrict the use of speed cameras.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Arizona in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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