A Small Rollback of a Government Irritant

Via Valley Fever

The day has finally arrived, Arizona: The state's much-loathed photo-radar speed enforcement program comes to an end tonight.At 11:59 p.m. today, the plug will be pulled on all the state's speed-cams and anyone caught speeding past one will no longer have to fear a process server dropping off a nasty-gram at their homes.

Unfortunately, 1) bazillions of red light cameras will still be on duty and 2) I believe this only applies to state photo-radar cameras -- city cameras will still exist.  So I am not sure if this applies, say, to cameras on surface streets like Frank Lloyd Wright in Scottsdale.


  1. vyus:

    I had thought that even the 101 cameras were actually city cameras. Wasn't there a big issue about that a while back?

  2. kebko:

    Why are you against them? Do you prefer a system where cops have discretion to let off their buddies or women with a nice set? I think the cameras were a step in the direction of fairness & away from arbitrary discretion.

  3. me:

    kebko makes an interesting point: the real fix would have been to elevate the nonsensically low speed limits.

  4. Kris:

    This is a no-brainer. I'll bet the state got pressure from the state trooper's union that this would steal jobs. So... -1 for government efficiency.

  5. Highway:

    A better step *would* be to raise speed limits to the 80th percentile speed on a roadway. But a combination of public ignorance and police desire to get more revenue keeps speed limits at an unsafe low speed.

    Given that speed limits are so hit or miss about actually having any grounding in the reality of the road they're on, getting rid of photo enforcement of arbitrary limits is a benefit.

  6. Highway:

    Sorry, that should be 85th percentile speed, not 80th.

  7. John Moore:

    Kebko... in Arizona, the law is that you can go up to 20mph above the posted speed limit (up to some max 75mph or whatever) - legally, as long as it is safe. The cameras are incapable of making that judgment, while cops routinely do let smooth flowing traffic go by well in excess of the speed limit.

    Highway is on the right track, although the traffic engineering standard is the 85th percentile.

    Paradise Valley is the worst offender, and unfortunately, I am surrounded by them (I live in a county island with its only exits in the town of PV). I am convinced they pioneered camera traps (they've been around since the 80s) because they don't want the hoi polloi driving through *their* sacred streets. And PV cameras produce a real citation, which goes on your license and to your insurance company.

    My response has been to drive "on instruments" (as we pilots say). I put the car in cruise control and trim the speed to the GPS (won't say *what* speed).

    We need to ban the damned things state wide. Maybe we can send them to Mexico with the illegals we catch (just teasing, Warren).

  8. James H:

    I think I'd prefer the discretion of the cops. Sure, some may let an attractive person go, but do I really care that much? If the camera malfunctions, or is set incorrectly (this seems to happen more often than you might think, and it makes sense given the profit motive), it's on you to prove it. Also, if I get pulled over, I get instant feedback that I'm doing something wrong. With the cameras, you have to wait days or weeks to find out. Since the speed limit alternates between 55 and 65 so many places, you may be speeding in the same spot every day and wrack up 10 tickets before you even know you've done anything wrong.

    I don't travel through central Phoenix or on the 51 very often, and I know they have that alternating speed limit all over the place, so I find that I'm looking at my speedometer and the roadside for signs more than watching traffic when I do travel that way. If there's a tractor-trailer in the right lane that obstructs my view of the signs, then I really have to focus on the roadside. How safe is that? With actual officers, I'm probably not going to get pulled over if I'm going the same speed as everyone else, not passing people. Isn't that more safe?

    I don't think that you get a 20mph buffer, because at 20mph over the limit it becomes a criminal offense. You may get a 10mph buffer, as the cameras are set for 11mph over. On most freeway stretches, the limit is 65mph. In fact, I recall that they set the speed limit to 65mph on all freeways, but then said it doesn't take effect until the signs are changed. This was over a year ago, so I can see there's no hurry to change the signs.

  9. IgotBupkis:

    > Unfortunately, 1) bazillions of red light cameras will still be on duty

    Anyone interested in an excellent expose on the flaws and failures of Red Light cameras, The Weekly Standard's Matt Labash did a long, five-part piece on them waaaaaay back in 2002:

    Inside the District's Red Lights
    Red-light cameras are all over Washington [Ed note: DC] -- and coming to a city near you. The science behind them is bad and the police are using them to make money, not save lives. It's much worse than you thought.

    I strongly recommend this piece as at least a starting point for anyone looking for information on them. It's very comprehensive and probably still holds up exceptionally well as a source of argumentation against them. I confess, it's been more than five years since I last re-read it but it didn't seem to be suffering much with age as of that last time.

  10. IgotBupkis:

    P.S., I'm amazed someone hasn't developed a polarizing LCD cover for a license plate that actually detects any flash and renders the license unreadable from that direction.

    Be interesting to see a government try and stop people from equipping them. You have some reasonable privacy arguments you could make: "I don't like it when people take pictures using their phone cams and video cams, etc., that happen to include my car. I don't see how I must be forced to allow them to invade my privacy that way. If Google Maps has to protect the privacy of those appearing in its street view mechanism, why can't I protect myself from similar activities on an individual level?"

  11. Not Sure:

    "I don’t see how I must be forced to allow..."

    Obviously, you're operating under the misconception that 1) the government is in any way accountable to the wishes of the public and 2) the government pays attention to what the public thinks in the first place.

    If you want to try to make it so that you can't be photographed in public, you need to get a job as a cop. ;)