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Arizona Backs Off Its Speed Camera Program 513

crimeandpunishment writes to inform us that Arizona is putting the brakes to a controversial and contentious speed camera program. The cameras have been used along highways in the Phoenix area and in vans throughout the state. While the cameras are used throughout the country, Arizona's program was the widest use of the technology, and the decision to drop it is a setback for those who argue that the cameras slow speeders, reduce accidents, and free up police for more serious matters. "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."
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Arizona Backs Off Its Speed Camera Program

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  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 07, 2010 @09:02AM (#32125132)

    Stop being stupid.

    The cameras weren't removed because someone shot one of the camera-van operators. The decision on whether or not to remove the cameras was postponed so that the murder wouldn't influence the decision, the *exact* *opposite* of what you suggest.

    Can you read? Or do you just not care?

  • Re:Huh? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 07, 2010 @09:11AM (#32125242)

    cite? I'll help, my commute every morning. Speed limit is 60mph in the zone. 45 when workers present.

    I deal with a bulk of nuts doing 75+ weaving through traffic twice a day. They never slow to 45 for the workers, and get all road ragey on those that dare to do the posted limits.

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Informative)

    by Beyond_GoodandEvil ( 769135 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @09:14AM (#32125284) Homepage

    b) it was CCTV that helped capture the man behind the recent bomb attempt in New York by catching pictures of him, don't you? Guns wouldn't have helped in either of those situations.

    Ummm, no the VIN is what helped catch the guy in New York. And his own stupidity.

  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi AT evcircuits DOT com> on Friday May 07, 2010 @09:18AM (#32125342) Homepage

    They don't do anything to slow down speeders. If anything they contribute to accidents and traffic problems since speeders will slam on their brakes when they see one.

    In Europe, speeding camera's are common and it's also common to shoot them, burn them or otherwise vandalize them: []

  • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Informative)

    by plover ( 150551 ) * on Friday May 07, 2010 @09:23AM (#32125412) Homepage Journal

    Seriously? You can't do five minutes of your own research? I simply copied and pasted your above statement [] into Google, and this link, [] , was fourth from the top. It includes a lot of documents that are relevant, including this useful summary:

    During the 1995 to 2002 period, 844 workers were killed while working at a road construction site. During this same period there were 9325 deaths in the construction industry. The 844 worker deaths in road construction represent 9% of all deaths in construction. More than half of these fatalities were attributable to a worker being struck by a vehicle or mobile equipment. Workplace fatalities that occur at a road construction site typically account for 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent of all workplace fatalities annually.

    of this document: Source: Fatal occupational injuries at road construction sites []

    Road construction fatality rates are disproportionately higher than most other occupations. As to whether or not Arizona is more or less prone to road construction fatalities, the document only ranks the top and bottom five, and Arizona was in neither. But even if their work zones were among the safest in the nation, that's not saying much. It's still a very hazardous occupation.

    Further summarizing the document's contents, of the 693 fatalities between 1995 and 2002, 509 were due to a worker being struck by a vehicle. The rest were "construction" types of accidents, including falls, struck by objects, contact with electricity, etc. Of the 509 deaths caused by vehicles, 363 occurred in the roadway, and 119 occurred off to the side of the road.

    So don't delude yourself for a moment into thinking that work zones aren't dangerous places for workers, or that traffic isn't the primary cause of death for the workers. It is.

  • by Ephemeriis ( 315124 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @09:25AM (#32125430)

    So are you implying that they should not have a secure border or not? Hard to read your comment.

    A secure border is one thing...

    Stopping random people and asking to see their papers just because they look like they might be illegal is something else entirely.

  • Re:Good (Score:4, Informative)

    by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @09:26AM (#32125456)

    You do realise that a) we're talking about speed cameras here and not CCTV and b) it was CCTV that helped capture the man behind the recent bomb attempt in New York by catching pictures of him, don't you? Guns wouldn't have helped in either of those situations.

    The UK has 6,000 speed cameras. From daily mail:

    Drivers were clobbered with 1.23million tickets in 2008, of which 1.03million were issued by speed cameras, the Home Office report revealed. The tickets raised more than £73million for the Treasury that year, or £200,000 a day. In total, 16million tickets have been issued since 1997, raising £913million.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sir_Lewk ( 967686 ) < minus herbivore> on Friday May 07, 2010 @09:40AM (#32125636)

    The use of COPS doesn't seem people from speeding past the school near me. They _often_ have police officers idling around when students are coming or leaving. What makes you think cameras will be any better at stopping jackasses from speeding?

  • Re:no way back (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @09:43AM (#32125682)

    (Unless of course you actually are a terrorist, in which case, I hope a camera catches you the same way the one in times square got caught.)

    Except of course the camera had nothing to do with his apprehension.

    But don't let facts ruin your ridiculous ad-hominem tirade.

  • Umm, misinterpreted? (Score:5, Informative)

    by autocracy ( 192714 ) <> on Friday May 07, 2010 @09:49AM (#32125764) Homepage

    ".. Worker being struck by a vehicle," does not always mean that they were hit by a passenger car. Sometimes it does, but I suspect that the majority of those incidents were along the line of, "run over by a (backhoe | forklift | dumptruck)."

    In fact, "In 54 percent (274) of the cases, a truck struck the worker. Of these trucks, 36 percent were dump trucks, 21 percent were pickup trucks, and 19 percent were semitrailer, tractor trailer, or trailer trucks. Automobiles were the source in 28 percent (143) of all cases of struck by vehicle or mobile equipment at road construction sites. Finally, construction machinery, which includes backhoes, levelers, planers, scrapers, steamrollers, and road pavers, accounted for 11 percent (56) of the struck by vehicle or mobile equipment fatalities." In short, we tend to run over our own.

    This data is also over a seven year period. Please read your own data, and note that it points to traffic not being the primary cause of of death for workers. Most of those trucks and some of those cars are probably workers. I pity the poor bastard that was taken out by a steamroller.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @10:26AM (#32126326)

    And school zones. While I was going out to get some errands done I hit a school zone. Flashing yellow lights held up above the road with a bright "20" lit up. Obviously a warning that school is letting out and the zone is now 20MPH.

    The road is a 4 lane (2 each way) and as you could guess where I'm going with this.. A SUV flies by me on the right and weaves through traffic doing at least 45. He/She also ran a yellow with a ton of kids waiting to cross.

    Absolutely sickened me. A bad slip up, unexpected lane change of another vehicle, or a simple miscalculation on the light and it could have been on CNN.

    I would happily support cameras on each end watching and timing plates. Ticketing anyone who speeds in a school zone during morning and afternoon student/bus/walker travel times.

    Even better - put police officers there. Where I live, it's not uncommon to see a cop, sitting in the median, watching for speeders. He's readily visible, and has the effect of slowing people down. Even so, he or she is also regularly writing a ticket.

    The problem with speed cameras is they have little direct deterrent effect - the are an after the fact gotcha (which often is not a traffic violation so they avoid having to deal with them in court) - and as such would not prevent the scenario you describe; unless the person knows the camera is there and even with signs they seem to catch a lot of people. If they didn't, they'd cost more than they produce and they'd be gone; "increased traffic safety" be damned (of course, we'd get some official explanation how they accomplished their goals and it was time to move on, etc., etc., etc.).

  • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Informative)

    by harl ( 84412 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @10:53AM (#32126862)

    WTF? The stats you provide show the exact opposite of what you claim. Construction deaths in a workzone is akin to being struck by lightning. Literally. Murder accounts for some 306 times as many deaths. Driving account for some 670 times as many deaths.

    844 deaths in a 7 year period. 120.5 deaths a year.

    No more than half of those are caused by cars. 60.25

    At most, likely less due to mobile equipment, 61 people a year die in work zones from cars. Nationwide.

    That's one person a state per year. That's no where near dangerous. Here are some comparison numbers. [] []

    Deaths per year:
    Car Accidents ~40,000
    Murder: 18,573
    Hurricane 116
    Heat 114
    Flood 64
    Worker struck by Car in Workzone 61
    Lightning 59
    Tornado 56

    Going grocery shopping is more dangerous than construction in a work zone.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by drsmithy ( 35869 ) <drsmithy@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday May 07, 2010 @11:00AM (#32127018)

    There are other documents in the report that go on to discuss photo enforcement efforts in Arizona, but they're not quite as relevant.

    Firstly, construction zones and pedestrian areas are not the same thing.

    Secondly, as I understand it the speed limit in construction zones is 45mph. That's going to give a fatality rate (based on the abstract) of somewhere between 95% and 100%. The difference between that and having the speed limit still at 65 (or whatever - >50mph) is basically nothing - it's still just going to be a matter of dumb luck whether or not the person survives being hit.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @11:16AM (#32127322) Journal

    If you aren't driving faster than the lane to your right, then you should move over.

    That might be valid out on the rural interstate but in many urban areas the right most lanes are better used for merging/exiting. If you cruise in them you'll constantly be cut off by people entering or exiting the highway. Ever driven the Baltimore or DC beltways? Try cruising on them in the right lanes. It's not fun.....

  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by mdielmann ( 514750 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @11:43AM (#32127812) Homepage Journal

    And then where I live, they put speed cameras that are active 24/7 in construction zones. So up to 75% of the time the cameras are running there aren't even construction workers present, and there's no notification that a speed camera is ahead, and yet I'm supposed to believe the primary purpose is to slow down traffic in order to reduce injury. Hardly.

    If traffic cameras weren't used so often for money grabs, perhaps people would actually be more in favour of them being used to improve safety.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Myopic ( 18616 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @12:17PM (#32128372)

    You make a good point, but be careful not to equate "right lane" with "right-most lane". If you are on a six-lane highway, and driving the limit, then you are probably driving faster than the people entering and exiting -- right? If so, then you belong at least one lane to the left, maybe more; if not, if you really are driving the same speed as incoming and outgoing traffic, then sorry, yes, you belong in that right-most lane with those cars.

    The lane-to-speed theory is very simple. Just look to your right. Is that car traveling slower than you? If not, move to the right, and repeat.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Bryan3000000 ( 1356999 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @12:25PM (#32128522)
    Crossing guards at school zones provide more safety than issuing a camera-ticket after the fact, AND are cheaper than installing and maintaining cameras.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 07, 2010 @12:26PM (#32128536)

    This means you, entire fucking state of Ohio! I'm tired of your jackass drivers on our Pennsylvania roads! If you aren't passing, get back in the right fucking lane! It's the law, asses!

  • by bjdevil66 ( 583941 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @12:32PM (#32128640)

    ...act on a ban... and a little side info for you out of staters...

    "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.""

    This is NOT why the lawmakers didn't move forward with repealing the plan. It was about money and lobbying - period.

    Background - I'm from Arizona, and I've been helping collect signatures for and their petition drive to ban ALL photo enforcement in Arizona. I've been following this issue VERY closely, and I've been in touch with multiple legislators - my rep in person multiple times - and here's the short, short version of the real story behind the state legislature's failure to do anything.

    Arizona State Rep. Sam Crump, who adamantly opposes the cameras, authored a House bill to ban the state highway speed cameras. (While other legislative efforts were attempted with amendments to other non-related bills, his was the most prominent and likely to succeed.) It passed out of the Transportation and Infrastructure committee (which Sam sat on) on party lines. (Democrats universally opposed removing them. I'm not 100% sure why Dems were united... One said, "It's scary to drive on the roads." Another from the T&I committee said, "I'm an ER doctor," and went on to describe the "carnage" from accidents. And so on... But in the end, I think all the Democrats did it for political reasons - because the system was Janet Napalitano's brain child (along with Jay Heiler and other Redflex lobbyists pushing her for it), and they don't dare step on her powerful Democrat toes.)

    After his bill passed the T&I and Rules committees, it suddenly stopped moving. I asked Sam why, and he assured me that he'd been promised it'd get a whole House floor vote.

    At about this time, the driver was shot and killed in the van, and politics did get involved somewhat, but both sides claimed that the shooting supported their views. "The man wouldn't have been shot if he wasn't there in the first place with a speed camera," vs., "You see? Our society is falling apart. We NEED this kind of surveillance to discourage criminal activity," etc.

    (Ironically enough, it was human witnesses that followed the shooter after the crime and gave detailed accounts that led to Destories's arrest - NOT all of the 24/7 video being shot by the camera van or any of the other $200,000+ worth of Big Brother-like technology deployed there in the van... Just like the NYC Times Square bomb was thwarted by people just paying attention... but that's another discussion for another time).

    Meanwhile, the cameras were taking hundreds of thousands of pictures. Some were in high speed areas, but the more nefarious cameras were located right at 65 to 55 speed limit change locations (on the 51). Many people who didn't mind the cameras and generally drove safely were suddenly getting $181.50 tickets in the mail, and they were FURIOUS. This anger, combined with a New Times article that let the cat out of the bag about how you could just throw the tickets in the garbage, led to a general revolt against the cameras. As of today, only about 30% of all of the "criminals" were actually paid their photo tickets (the majority just threw the non-legally-binding "Notices of Violation" in the garbage, and forced process servers to chase them down - with only limited success. Many people were challenging the tickets in the state courts, which ultimately were being flooded to the point that you couldn't get a court date for several months for any issues.

    Back at the capital, the state's budget crisis was growing by the day. Billions in annual shortfalls were becoming a reality, and the cameras WERE making some money from the people who actually just paid up. The top GOP man in the House - Speaker Kirk Adams - saw the political problems brewing. They couldn't cut the camera revenue and "let speeders off the hook" while they were cuttin

  • Re:Huh? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 07, 2010 @12:45PM (#32128892)

    Second, I just want a smooth, cruise-control, stress-less commute. Third, I am not alone in this.

    Then you do NOT belong in the left lane. The reason that people end up using all lanes as passing lanes is YOU! They have no choice to do more dangerous maneuvers if they want to be able to get past you and others like you. If you want to sit at the same speed without being a jerk, then pick a speed that lets you sit in the right lane without having to pass anyone that often. Roads wouldn't be so damn congested if PEOPLE WOULD JUST USE THE CORRECT FUCKING LANES!

  • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Informative)

    by thefez ( 566488 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @01:13PM (#32129340)
    Well those fellows got their profiling bill through - maybe they just didn't want to push the envelope into totalitarianism too quickly?
  • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @01:38PM (#32129818) Journal

    I agree with you. I just don't think it's worth picking up a gun over. Vote the shitheads out of office. Remember, it's soap box, ballot box, jury box, then ammo box.....

  • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Arcady13 ( 656165 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @03:26PM (#32131744) Homepage
    It's not a minute or two at 2:30. The school zones here run from 2:30-4:30. Do the kids take two hours to cross the street? It's ridiculous. And I can kind of understand the school zone in front of the elementary school, but the other one that's apparently near some high school, which is too far off the main road to even see, where I've never seen one kid EVER, even though I've been through there at all times of the day, is just a stupid money generator for the city. There's always at least 4 cop cars there after 2:30. Why aren't they there the rest of the day? Instead of paying four "Dallas constables" or whatever their silly title is, why not just use the wasted $160k/yr and build a bridge across the street? They don't seem to have any other purpose. I've never seen a "constable" doing anything but sitting in a school zone. As for the cameras, further up on my drive home they have a couple of red-light cameras. They cause the same brake-slamming. And the silly thing doesn't even take pictures from the front, so they can't prove who was driving the car anyway. How about they go arrest the assholes who can't seem to figure out how to drive in one lane, or who drive 90 on the freeway, or who think you're supposed to stop 300 feet from the red light and then inch up 6 inches at a time, only to stop 3 feet past the line, blocking the crosswalk?

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN