State scrutinizes city use traffic cams

April 15, 2013

Arizona is tightening up its rules regarding photo enforcement cameras on roadways. Gov. Jan Brewer signed a law last week requiring cities to prove there’s a legitimate safety need before installing the cameras on state roads.

And this might be a sign of things to come.

Brewer has made clear for years she’s no fan of the cameras -- and she isn’t completely alone in her opposition. Los Angeles, for example, banned the devices two years ago. But for the most part, traffic enforcement cameras are flourishing across the country. Twenty years ago, a handful of communities were using the cameras. Now, more than 500 do.

That makes sense to Engineer Richard Retting, who has studied traffic in the Phoenix area. He says the effectiveness of such cameras is not an issue.

“It’s not even debatable that when you use automated speed enforcement, driver compliance with speed laws improves dramatically,” he said.

Retting says when cameras were once in use in Scottsdale on the Loop 101, there was an 88 percent reduction in vehicles speeding by 11 miles an hour or more.

Critics have said the cameras are an infringement on personal freedom. But Retting says all evidence points to the devices making roadways safer.

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