Arizona Putting an End to Photo Enforcement Cameras

In 2008, Arizona began using photo enforcement cameras to catch people speeding on highways across the state. A new governor, a variety of legal challenges, and a lack of revenue generated from their use, all factored into the decision to shut them down less than two years later.

According to The New York Times, use of the cameras resulted in 1.2 million issued citations; however, less than one-third of the fines were actually paid. The revenue collected from the cameras was far less than what former Gov. Janet Napolitano predicted when the cameras were first installed – only $78 million.

Current Gov. Jan Brewer decided against renewing the contract with the camera’s provider, Redflex. A spokesperson for the governor indicated that Gov. Brewer was uncomfortable with the intrusive nature of the cameras and also because it appeared that they were used primarily as a revenue generator for the state.

Conservative activists have also echoed the complaints about the intrusive nature of the program. Arizona Citizens Against Photo Radar founder Shawn Dow questioned the constitutionality as well as the effectiveness of the traffic control program.

However, advocates of the system, like Joanna Peters of the Safer Arizona Roads Alliance, argue that the mere presence of photo enforcement cameras caused people to slow down and that alone prevented accidents. She points to the Department of Public Safety’s own report of a 19 percent reduction in fatal collisions to support her claim. This reduction came nine months after the cameras were first put into use.

Cities that have their own photo enforcement systems are not affected by Gov. Brewer’s decision. Redflex continues to operate cameras in 14 cities and communities throughout Arizona. Both advocates and critics of the system agree that enforcement duties now lay solely with the state patrol and local law enforcement agencies.