By: Frank Hinds, Executive Director
I know you are all familiar with the speed and red light cameras that have been installed at intersections all over the country. You are also probably aware of the attempts by some individuals and groups to discredit these photo enforcement programs by calling them unfair, unconstitutional, revenue generators and more. Many of these detractors will only accept a red light running ticket if it’s written by a police officer. In a perfect world, only law enforcement would write tickets, but it’s not practical to have an officer on every corner waiting to catch violators. When used properly, cameras provide an efficient tool for police departments and actually act as a deterrent causing many drivers to change their driving behavior.
Recently the City Council in Mesa, Arizona began discussions to discontinue their program. The Mesa photo enforcement program has been in place for many years and has successfully reduced the number crashes in that city. Sadly, some city elected officials are being influenced by a vocal minority of citizens and are ignoring the advice of public safety advocates. Hopefully saving lives will prevail.
In Tucson, Arizona, signatures are being collected to place an initiative on the ballot to ban cameras. Like Mesa, Tucson has maintained a very successful photo enforcement program for a long time, however, the folks who don’t like getting tickets for running red lights, are on the warpath. The citizens of Tucson know better and will most likely defeat this boneheaded move.
One reason opponents of camera enforcement programs are successful in getting the ear of politicians and ordinary citizens is they claim these cameras are unconstitutional and are only used to boost revenue for cities and don’t actually save lives. On the contrary, statistics show crashes are reduced and lives are saved, however, there are a few cities doing exactly what the opponents claim, simply raising revenue by charging huge fines and by manipulating the signal timing to create very short yellows. This deceitful practice must stop, photo enforcement programs should be operated properly, allowing them to succeed or fail legitimately. There’s nothing wrong with traffic fines helping to support public safety efforts, just because the ticket is generated by a camera should make no difference as long as it’s done fairly. Revenue from other types of tickets including parking all goes toward improving a city’s bottom line. Safety should always be the number one priority, not revenue enhancement.
Red Means Stop supports the use of all types of roadway safety measures that increase the chances of motorists, passengers and pedestrians arriving at their destination without incident.