Arizona County Ditches Speed Cameras, Saying They Made Roads More Dangerous

from the speedy-departure dept

While Arizona is considering getting rid of speed cameras across the state (update: this has now been approved), one county has already gone ahead and removed all of its speed cameras, after the newly elected sheriff went through the data and found that the speed cameras were not even remotely effective (thanks to everyone who sent this in). The sheriff noted, first of all, that despite claims this would make the streets safer, accidents actually increased by 16% and fatal accidents doubled (from 3 to 6). He admits, reasonably, that there could be other factors, but there’s little to suggest that the cameras did anything to make the roads safer — which was the main reason why the cameras were first installed.

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Comments on “Arizona County Ditches Speed Cameras, Saying They Made Roads More Dangerous”

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Tamara says:

Don’t know what happens in Arizona, but here in Queensland(Australia) when people see a speed camera there are people who slam on the breaks forcing people behind them to weave or smash into to the back. Of course by the time they see the camera it’s too late and you’ve already been photographed, but they don’t seem to realise that.

Rose M. Welch says:

Re: Re:

I’m going to state up-front that I don’t like the cameras.

However, you can’t blame the cameras for rear-end accidents and near-accidents. You can blame the drivers for tailgating. What if an animal had run into the road the the driver slammed on their brakes and got rear-ended? Would you blame the animal or the tailgater?

Sheesh, people, take some responsibility.

Tamara says:

Re: Re: Re:

Comment 10 – If someone slams on their breaks then you don’t need to be tailgating to crash into the back of them or needing to swerve to miss them. I’m not talking about slowing putting your foot on the break. It’s impossible not to need to swerve or hit them if you’re observing the law (which where I live is a 2 second gap). That’s why you often see in head-to-toe accidents 4-5 cars. One cars hits the other, they of course stop quickly, the cars behind don’t have time to stop, so they all keep hitting each other. If the first car is a new car with high-level breaks, then of course it’ll stop much faster with less skid, than a 15-year old car.

TW Burger (profile) says:

A Political Rather than a Safety Issue

Radar activated cameras were removed from use in my area several years ago due to public outcry rather than any safety issue. Politicians, being the gutless wonders they are, quickly removed the cameras for fear of not being re-elected.

I, not having had a ticket in 25 years, never had a problem with an efficient and 100% accurate way to catch and punish speeders. However, it seems many people feel it is their God given right to go as fast as they wish because they alone REALLY KNOW HOW TO DRIVE AND ITS EVERYONE ELSE THAT IS UNSAFE! These persons are members of a group of humanity I have labeled the “How did those immoral, ignorant f*cks get a drivers license?”. These people are often also included in the group “Hey, you dumb sh*t moron, you just cut me off by changing lanes without signaling while steering with your knees because you have a cell phone in one hand and a super big gulp in the other!”. If you are against traffic law enforcement you must be a member of one group of cretins or another.

As in most US states the sheriff is an elected official of the county and is probably simply fudging data to appease the electorate.

It is simply ridiculous to postulate that anything that is completely unobtrusive and acts as an incentive (a negative one) to drive at the posted speed limits could do anything but reduce accidents and save lives.

Road Rage is not the answer dude says:

Re: A Political Rather than a Safety Issue

TW Burger -> “never had a problem with an efficient and 100% accurate way to catch and punish speeders”

This statement could be interpreted in several ways.
1) You wouldn’t have a problem with the camera if it were 100% accurate.
2) You think the speed camera is indeed 100% accurate.

As we all know, speed cameras are not and never will be 100% accurate. The remainder of your rant … well maybe you would be better off if you took mass transit.

Road Rage is not the answer dude says:

Re: Re: Re: A Political Rather than a Safety Issue

TW Burger -> “Explain to me how a camera lies or makes a mistake.

It not the camera, it’s the speed detector. The whole item is commonly refeerred to as a speed camera. Many of the detectors are based upon doppler radar, which can produce incorrect results. For example, a bird flys by at the same you are passing in from of the camera.
There have been instances where a motorist receives a ticket in the mail claiming that they have exceeded the limit by a ridiculous amount. They obviously do not review the validity of tickets prior to senting them. The obvious ones get thrown out, if you go to court, but what about the ones where your car can actually go that fast ? There must be many and it would be very difficult to prove your innocence, although some have succeeded.

The rest of your comment ….. well what can I say, except grow up.

kirillian (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 A Political Rather than a Safety Issue

What Road Rage says is true…I remember back a few years ago when my father was working for a company that made police radar and lidar (the laser version) equipment. His company’s radar happened to be the most accurate radar out at the time…but even then, it still had a +/- in the accuracy column. He was telling me that courts in Texas won’t even accept radar readings that are less than 6-7 mph over the speed limit if the reading was taken from a radar (lidar was something around 1-3 because it was far more accurate). Even then, the vehicle had to be sitting still and the weather had to be pristine for the readings to be acceptable. There are so many things that can affect radar and lidar readings that it’s just silly…and all it took was a lawyer that had the brains to go look it up and the defendent could walk free.

Besides, I like the philosophy that Texas instills in its drivers anyway (much better than up in the North where I live). I remember my dad getting pulled over when I was young. The cop told him to speed it up or he was going to give him a ticket for “reckless endangerment” because my dad was going the speed limit and the rest of traffic was going 9-10 over!! At the same time, I remember the driver’s test emphasized going with the flow of traffic over the speed limit (though, I would suggest going the speed limit for the written driver’s test…just a suggestion…the driver’s test cops are anal…).

Now that’s committment to SAFETY rather than the word of the law.

TW Burger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 A Political Rather than a Safety Issue

Your argument is spurious at best.
First, you do not have a degree in engineering.
Secondly, you have no technical knowledge of speed detection systems, only parroting of terms such as Doppler (it’s spelled with a capital).
Thirdly, wild radar ticket claims are mostly anecdotal hearsay (urban legends) and extremely rare with the latest technologies.
Fourthly, radar units are checked daily for accuracy.
Lastly, I am mature and obey the traffic laws that’s why I do not get tickets. I have driven through hundreds of speed traps and have never received a false reading based fine. A man governs himself, a boy argues that the rules are unfair.

You seem to stubbornly refuse to grow up and have an either adolescent or a paranoid mindset that the man is out to get you.

My argument is that bad drivers cause accidents, not law enforcement methods.

Your argument is that technology is bad, cops are bad, the legal system is bad, and anything that insults your perceived right to break any law you find inconvenient is bad.

Grow up, dude.

BTR1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: A Political Rather than a Safety Issue

> The reason the number of accidents rise is due to those who
> will drive what ever speed they want, and to avoid a ticket
> they slam on the brakes giving the tailgater behind them
> not enough time to react thereby creating more accidents.

It doesn’t matter what the reason for it is. The fact that putting up cameras causes people to behave more dangerously than they otherwise would have is prima facie evidence that putting up cameras makes the roads less safe.

Xiera says:

Re: A Political Rather than a Safety Issue

As someone who speeds religiously, I’m a little disturbed by your post.

In all seriousness, though, I do drive fast and I can tell you that, even though I try to maintain a safe following distance, most of us speedsters do not. This becomes a huge safety problem when people panic and slam on their brakes, which is a natural reaction, even if you normally go the speed limit.

The problem is: speed cameras only provide incentive to drive slower in areas WHERE THEY EXIST. They provide no incentive to drive slower in general. It might be easier for a non-speeder like yourself to claim otherwise, but take it from someone who speeds: speed cameras do not work and are a huge safety hazard. (I’ve been tailgated by people who drive as fast as I do. If I ever had to slam on my brakes…)

omelette says:

Re: A Political Rather than a Safety Issue

I admit to being a member of your “HDTIIFGADL” group of humanity due to my often disregard of speed limit laws on highways/interstates. I don’t think I’m the only person who knows how to drive(in fact, I’d say I was only “average”) and I certainly don’t talk on my cell phone when driving. I have no problem with speed limits on neighborhood streets as there are outside factors like noise and pedestrians. However, all that said, I DO think many posted speed limits are either horribly out-dated or are there entirely for ticket revenue. With advances in automotive technology over the past decades, there’s no WAY you can expect me to believe that a limit posted 20 years ago is still valid. I’ve think we’re long overdue for an overhaul of how licenses are given out. I would love to see a system where drivers were granted a regular license and a “highway” license. Requirements for an “H” sticker should be regular testing to keep instilled important rules of the road like the “Left Lane Is For Passing” as well as to test physical ability handling a modern machine at high speeds. Until then, I don’t get angry when driving and I intentionally keep my movements predictable to other drivers (no sudden movements, passing on the right, weaving, etc) but I drive much faster than the posted speed limit and don’t lose any sleep at night.

Your last statement, while it may be true (although obviously a step in the wrong direction from my perspective) for speed cameras, is definitely false for red-light cameras. The “surprise” factor of the yellow light is what ups the danger factor in these situations. A while back(at least in my area) they discontinued the practice of having an officer on foot jumping out of median bushes with a radar gun because of deaths/accidents despite how well it worked. No matter how effective the incentive, we should not be willingly throwing drivers into “panic” situations.

BTR1701 (profile) says:

Re: A Political Rather than a Safety Issue

> It is simply ridiculous to postulate that anything that is
> completely unobtrusive and acts as an incentive (a negative
> one) to drive at the posted speed limits could do anything
> but reduce accidents and save lives.

Numbers don’t lie, chief. In jurisdiction after jurisdiction after jurisdiction, from one end of this country to the other, the numbers show that the accident rates rise the moment the cameras are installed, and fall when they’re taken down.

What’s simply ridiculous is you burying your head in the sand and refusing to acknowledge that FACT because you’ve got a personal pet peeve regarding the behavior of other drivers on the road.

Don says:

Re: A Political Rather than a Safety Issue

If the Camera systems can match the law then I agree!

How ever I’m an expert in electronics and have been in contact with the preeminent engineer that is quoted in MUTCD and he also says they cannot meet the requirements of the law.

In addition are often not even in compliance with their own standards. Yellow timing in my city varies from 1.75 seconds to 4.8 seconds. Ths is just for the yellow light on time. Law says minimum of 3 seconds on to 6 seconds on.

There are other considerations, such as if you are in the intersection you are allowed up to 2 seconds to clear the intersection. These cameras take pictures before the start of the 2 second clearance allowed in the law (All red timing).

Before you quote your 25 years how abut others who have 45 years driving experienced without this type ticket, who now have a ticket to show for being a good driver?

R says:

What about speed cameras that are less visible? Here in Australia, most of them are hidden inside unmarked cars parked by the side of the road, so you can’t even tell if there’s a camera until you’ve passed it. Of course, if everyone slows down at every parked car, then they’ll probably have to slow down less since they do so more frequently.

Tamara says:

Re: Re:

Comment 9 – They’re state run, so most in Australia aren’t in unmarked cars. Just the ones in your state must be. In QLD, they’re in vans with “Police speed patrol”(or something like that) on the side. By the time you see the van, you’ve been photographed, but the van could still be 20-30m further up the road.

Doc Rings says:

Timely article

Total “deja vu” moment. I live in Gulf Breeze, FL, where the main intersection has a red-light camera. I was about ready to go through the intersection when it went yellow. Knowing it was a red-light intersection I did not want to take a chance with a $300 ticket, so I quickly stopped, where other intersection I may have taken the yellow legally (but with $300 at stake, why take the chance of having 5 feet of the car hanging in the intersection when it goes red and snaps a pic?

Anyhow, I noticed a minivan behind me that in no way was going to stop for the yellow, and fully expected to not just run the yellow, but go through on the red. I braced for the rear-end collision, but the cell-phone toting teenager locked them up and swerved at the last minute. I probably missed being rear-ended by inches.

I don’t know what is worse: $300 to be “safe” or be “right” and get rear-ended at these camera intersections?

In Italy, I recall green lights with a count-down timer on them so one would not be at all surprised when they turned yellow, and a driver could anticipate a change from the green.

Perhaps something similar could help with safety, not just the “photo surprise” yellow/red.

I hate that intersection, and I do the speed limit. Too fast and you have to slam on the brakes, too slow and you won’t clear the intersection in time… arrggghh!!!!

Isn’t it “government *by* the people, and *for* the people”??? Shouldn’t government help us, not hurt us???

Zaphod (user link) says:

What worked here.

Instead of speed cameras, the most effective thing they have found here is permanent “YOUR SPEED” radar sensed LED signs. Most people here slow down when they get reminded that they are speeding, as long as it’s in a non invasive, and accurate way.

Brought down the speeds from 40-45 on 12th street right down to 30. No cameras, no tickets, no police harassing you, just people being given the chance to do right… and it worked.

Perhaps the thing that is needed more for speed control, is H.U.D.s in cars that put the speed in the windshield just below the edge of the sightline of the hood. It would be much easier to maintain speed, if you didn’t have to look down, refocus, see speedometer, then look back up at the road, refocus, and continue driving.

I am sure that’s the problem, people worried about a ticket, so they take their eyes off the road to check speed!

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s a WELL KNOWN FACT that speeding kills. In just about every deadly crash I hear about on the news, the line “authorities say speed was a factor” is always tossed in there. Surely those accidents weren’t increasing in the areas where those speed cameras were installed.

We have speed cameras placed everywhere in this city and the local news stations actually reported the exact opposite data, that in fact accidents had decreased. I’m sure there are lots of other factors that have nothing to do with the cameras… for example, driving through a speed camera while intoxicated will do little to stop you from driving inappropriately.

Xiera says:

Re: Re:

Stupidity kills, it’s just easier to blame it on speed because speed doesn’t backtalk.

In most of those accidents where “authorities say speed was a factor”, it was not the only factor. In most multi-car accidents, it’s the result of lack of attention, tailgating, not using a turn signal, and all kinds of “unexpected” driving. Doing unexpected things while driving is dangerous, speeding is not. The only situation that I can see speed being the only factor is taking turns too fast, and accidents resulting from this usually only involve the one car. Let stupid people be stupid — it’s the only way we’re going to get smarter as a whole.

None says:

I’ve always been neutral on the cameras m’self. I make a living driving, and have for years, and the amount of stupidity out there astounds me. Seriously, its so bad out here that they could triple the number of DPS officers, and barely scratch the surface, so i have no real doubts that the cameras over all have done a good job of reigning in people’s bad behaviour.

jim says:

speed cameras

I drive in the valley for a living and im on the freeways all day and have no problem with police but i do with these cameras. People fly down the road as fast as they want and just like if its a cop they slam on there brakes ( some ) way too hard and speed right back up to speed… therefore they are useless… there seriosly skid marks in front of the cameras before u drive over the line in the ground..
theres been times where in rush hour your going slower than the speed limit and people freak out and hit there brakes anyways.. hate those cameras…sorry but people are going to speed…if there car can do it they will speed…

Stephanie says:

Hate those cameras

I have gotten 3 tickets in the past week and a half all from the same camera, and all from almost a month ago. I didn’t know there was a camera there. I’ve passed that light almost every day for the past month now so God knows how many tickets I will be getting in the next few weeks. I have (obviously) stopped speeding there, and I do take full responsibility for the tickets, it’s just….why do they have to wait a month before processing them? When you are stopped by a cop for speeding, it shakes you up a bit and makes you more cautious and less likely to speed. If I had known right away about these violations I would have slowed down. Because I had no idea about them, God knows how many I’ve got coming to me from the past month.

I’ve learned my lesson, I’ll never do 44 in a 35 again but why charge me out the ass for it?

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