Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Flash In The Road

Arizona's DPS will turn off its speed enforcement cameras this summer, citing a change of "focus." But you can see they're not paying their way. The Arizona Republic reports only 30 percent of the citations were paid. A lot of people figured out they could just ignore a traffic-camera speeding ticket and it would expire; overworked process servers couldn't make it to everybody to physically present them with a summons. This doesn't apply to red-light cameras operated by cities and counties, so you'll still have to deal with them around Tucson and parts of the Phoenix area.

You can't cross-examine a photo enforcement camera in court. DPS tells us the fixed cameras are checked once a month for accuracy, which leaves about 29 days or so for them to malfunction. If they do, how do we know when that malfunction took place and what tickets came from flaws in the equipment? I have a hard time believing, with those cameras baking in the Arizona heat, that a monthly accuracy check is enough.

Even if they've saved lives and slowed people down, the speed-cam project has turned into a net loss for the state, something that is going to have safety advocates grinding their teeth and saying, "What the heck is wrong with these people?" Nothing, really. We just prefer getting pulled over and asked, "Do you know how fast you were going?"

Er, no. But you can ask that camera back there.

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