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home : latest news : latest news April 16, 2014


10/3/2013 6:00:00 AM
End of photo radar in Prescott Valley: Vans are gone, cameras are bagged
Les Stukenberg/The Daily CourierPrescott Valley’s photo radar cameras have been covered up as of Wednesday morning.
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
Prescott Valley’s photo radar cameras have been covered up as of Wednesday morning.

PRESCOTT VALLEY - Motorists here now may drive through town without fear of photo-enforcement cameras catching them speeding or running red lights.

The town's contract with Scottsdale-based Redflex Traffic Systems that dates to October 2006 expired today because the Town Council previously decided against extending the contract. Redflex de-activated the stationary cameras at midnight Tuesday and covered them with bags Wednesday.

Council members and past police chiefs dating to Dan Schatz have defended photo enforcement amid public complaints by claiming photo enforcement encouraged safer driving.

However, council members changed their minds after a traffic safety consultant completed an audit in March that disclosed police officers overlooked speeding violations involving family members who drove the officers' private vehicles. Around the same time, the Chicago Tribune published an exposé of corruption involving Redflex and the Chicago city government.

Mayor Harvey Skoog, who has been a photo enforcement proponent from the start, said, "The community has been so uncomfortable with it. I am supporting pulling it out."

Two motorists approached near the fixed-cameras at the intersection of Highway 69 and Prescott East Highway expressed mixed feelings Wednesdays about the cameras going away.

"I don't like them," said Robert Kennedy, a maintenance director who lives in Cordes Lakes. "I think if you are going to get a ticket, somebody needs to be there (to issue it)."

However, Dylan Beale, a supermarket clerk who lives in Prescott, commented, "Honestly, cameras going away is kind of stupid because you actually need them. There are a lot of people that are driving smarter (because of them)."

Interim Police Chief James Edelstein discussed plans at a June 20 council meeting to deploy more officers to write tickets for speeding and red-light violations when photo enforcement goes away. Redflex used two mobile vans and placed cameras at fixed locations for speeding and red lights at Highway 69/ Prescott East Highway and Glassford Hill Road at Long Look Drive, and cameras for speeding only at Highway 69 east of Mendecino Drive.

"I intend to add at least one person to traffic," Edelstein said this past Thursday, bringing the total to three.

Edelstein said he is working with faculty and math students at Northern Arizona University to conduct a study of motorists' behavior in a six-month period that starts immediately.

"The council asked for a report after a year," he said.

Town Manager Larry Tarkowski said Wednesday, "We hope that we do not see an increase in red-light running or speeding at those locations." Speeding violations occurred when the cameras captured vehicles at 11 mph or faster than the posted speed limits.

The town launched photo enforcement in response to an increase in traffic collisions from 2004 to 2006, according to a report dated Oct. 13, 2011, that Edelstein gave to the council March 21. Prescott Valley police investigated more than 10 fatal crashes, hundreds of serious injury accidents and more than 1,000 accidents that did not involve injuries during that two-year period.

From October 2006 through September 2011, the cameras caught 198,598 violations and police issued 102,874 photo-enforcement tickets, the report stated. Collisions also dropped from 882 in 2007 to 613 in 2010, or 30 percent.

The police also compiled statistics on photo-enforcement violations that indicated violations dropped from the 2011-12 to 2012-13 fiscal years, which conclude on June 30. Van citations dropped from 5,217 to 3,252 (37.7 percent) in 2012-13, fixed-speed citations fell from 22,457 to 21,332 (5 percent) and red-light citations declined from 3,210 to 3,092 (3.7 percent).

Separate reports from the police logged an increase in overall citations from 1,914 in 2011-12 to 2,506 in 2012-13 - a 30.9 percent hike - and in overall traffic accidents from 543 in 2011-12 to 568 in 2012-13, or 4.6 percent.

The citations, which start at $180, have been revenue-neutral for the town, police and civilian officials have maintained from the start.

The town collected $235,639 in 2012-13 after paying Redflex $587,126, Management Services Director Bill Kauppi said. Kauppi explained the town receives $10.56 out of a starting ticket of $180, with Redflex collecting $70 and $27 going to the court processing fee.

Photo enforcement has accounted for more than 70 percent of the caseload of the Magistrate Court, Presiding Judge Keith Carson said.

With photo enforcement going away, the court will not fill one clerical position, the town's human resources director, Karen Smith, said. The court has four clerks, and a supervisory position that will be filled.

The loss of photo enforcement could mean a drop in business for traffic schools.

Photo-enforcement tickets have accounted for 20 to 25 of the business for Yavapai Traffic Safety School in Prescott, owner Melissa Caracker said.

However, she said, "I have seen an increase in handwritten tickets in Prescott Valley within the last month, probably 5 percent."

Unlike Caracker, Anton Teschner, owner of Arizona Monsoon Defensive Driving School in Prescott Valley, is not worried about losing business even though photo-enforcement tickets account for a majority of his students.

"If police do what they say they are going to do and make the contacts they are supposed to make, I don't expect a drop (in business)," Teschner said. "If they don't do their jobs, I don't have business. Roads might be more unsafe. Talk to me in a month."



Follow Ken Hedler on Twitter @KenHedLines.

Related Stories:
• PV Police: Collisions, violations up since cameras were shut down
• How many cops are out there?
• Letter: Ask objective questions to get the right answers



Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Article comment by: Mark Elliott

Retired AZ math teacher
Trigger set in correctly.
Major of Star Valley, signed Reflex agreement as mayor of Prescott Valley.
Info at

http://www.elwald.com/az-photo-radar/

dedicated to father who's ship pulled anchor, next to Arizona, and first warship after hospital ship Hope to leave Pearl Harbor after treaty signed with Japan to end WWII.


Posted: Sunday, October 06, 2013
Article comment by: Amy Griffin

Personally, I do not understand why so many people are against it. If they are following the rules of the road, they should not have anything to worry about with the cameras working. My guess is the ones complaining to most are the ones breaking the law most frequently.. And yes, I do drive the speed limit! I rarely drive in Prescott Valley, though, since I live in Paulden and work in Prescott. The ones that complain the most are the worst offenders.

Posted: Saturday, October 05, 2013
Article comment by: Very Happy

Those things were STANDARDIZED and we knew when to expect them and "slow down through that intersection" just as many PV cops I've seen (with no lights on) do. I have also had to avoid a few wrecks at night due to STARTLED (by the flash) drivers!

Posted: Saturday, October 05, 2013
Article comment by: Stephen Donaldson

Be wary of trusting safety claims by the scamera side.

No mention of how many crashes were ever caused by exceeding the speed limit.

NHTSA stats indicate this is UNDER 1.6 PERCENT US!

http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/38/3801.asp

"Out of 2.7 million traffic accidents recorded in twenty-five states over the course of a year, only 1.6 percent were caused by drivers who exceeded the posted speed limit. "

You can't make these "safety" claims when NHTSA data shows that!

UNLESS OF COURSE THE SPEED SCAMERAS SIDE COOKED THE BOOKS!

(there are examples of this too on RLC ).

www.motorists.org
www.banthecams.org
camerafraud on Facebook


Posted: Friday, October 04, 2013
Article comment by: Hang UP your PHONE And DRIVE!!

Now if people would just get off their phones and stop texting! I see it constantly, one hand texting, one hand holding a cigarette, what hand are they driving with?? Very glad the vans and cams are gone, but keep your eyes on the road...please!!!

Posted: Friday, October 04, 2013
Article comment by: JM S

I agree with JB 100%. Speed at your own risk, you fools.

Posted: Friday, October 04, 2013
Article comment by: Justin Case

uhm... the cameras and vans didn't stop folks from speeding on Glassford Hill Rd or anywhere else in PV, but that's a pretty neat story.

Before everyone gets all geared up about it, how about just drive a reasonable speed and wave to all the extra PVPD units out there this morning! Thanks fellas!!


Posted: Friday, October 04, 2013
Article comment by: @ Reed Winfrey

Reed, in 2008 at a meet the candidate forum in Pronghorn, a lady asked the mayor to consider just what you suggest. She told us that in NJ the state she's from they have delayed red lights at all major intersections and they have done a great job to prevent red light runner accidents.

It went right over skoogs head. Just a reminder all of those doa accidents in were in Prescott. I don't remember any being in PV since 05. According to ADOT the majority of accidents then were rear end collisions. I have no doubt the photo radar has caused many since.

Leave the speed at 45 and have our officers enforce it.


Posted: Friday, October 04, 2013
Article comment by: REAL AMERICAN C.P.O. USN Retired RETIRED OLD MAN TOO

SAD DAY!! Let's see what the body count will be on OCT 3rd 2014..
People 'already' going 70 mph on GLADSFORD by the HS school area. Over 80 by SAMS CLUB..NICE..
Lets see if someone can make it to 100 MPH...


Posted: Friday, October 04, 2013
Article comment by: @@ Map Reader

That route takes about an hour longer. Hope you don't get dizzy on all the switchbacks doing 25-30mph going down the mountain.

Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2013
Article comment by: @ Map Reader

The route Jerry Insley's talking about is taking 17N out of Phx to 60W to Wickenburg, then north to connect with 89N up Yarnell Hill into Prescott, coming in on White Spar Road/Montezuma Street by the Safeway. The procession of 19 hearses bringing the Granite Mountain Hotshots home came that way up 89. It's an especially nice motorcycle ride and a great way to avoid Jackass Flats (Prescott Valley).

(Mr. Insley lived in Prescott and taught at PHS for about a hundred years before he moved to Oregon. He knows this area.)

^-,,-^™


Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2013
Article comment by: To Map Reader

We think you need a bigger map.

- Wickenburg-Congress-Yarnell-Wilhoit HWY 89 Users Federation


Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2013
Article comment by: @ Map Reader

Jerry Insley's navigation skills are perfectly fine.

I-17 to Highway US 60 to US 93 to Arizona 89. It's a pleasant leisurely drive that misses Prescott Valley completely.


Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2013
Article comment by: James Walker

Great News! Now Prescott Valley should reset all the main road speed limits to the safety-optimum 85th percentile speed of free flowing traffic under good conditions.

This safety enhancement will likely post most limits 5 or 10 mph higher than currently, traffic will be smoother and safer, and the cameras will never be needed again.

James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association


Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2013
Article comment by: Map Reader

@Jerry "wrong way" Insley
"When flying to Phoenix and renting a car to drive to my home town of Prescott, It makes more sense to leisurely drive up "89" "
I sure hope you can fly better than you can read a map. It's "69" NOT "89".............


Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2013
Article comment by: Eric Arizona

Thank God and good riddance!

Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2013
Article comment by: Keith T.

I bet the writer of this article is glad the photo radar system is gone. Lord knows he has had his share of tickets.

Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2013
Article comment by: J B

Good news. You guys can go as fast as you want and blow through them red lights. If you get killed well you're exercising your freedom.

Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2013
Article comment by: 60 Grit

The city will leave then in place for about a year and re-evaluate. The evil of the radar cameras outweighed the good of the red light cameras, so I hope they stay shuttered for good. Too much of the money was going somewhere else anyway, so now if you get a fine it will stay closer to home -- a good thing, I think. So, I support your right to speed...

Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2013
Article comment by: Reed Winfrey

Guess I might as well get my two cents worth in here. I know the accidents were more severe prior to photo radar. I know photo radar has decreased red light running. I suspect photo radar has causes some accidents with folks trying to comply at the last moment. I would hope everyone encourages themselves and others to please obey the traffic laws in Prescott Valley.
I hope we never have a need for photo radar ever again anywhere.
I wonder how many folks would be supportive of the traffic lights remaining red in all directions for 3-5 seconds before changing to green each time?? Would it upset you and make you think you are wasting your time or would you feel safer for everyone to sit before a traffic change happens?
I also wonder when was the last time you allowed a car length for each 10mph? They don't teach that anymore in the so called traffic schools. Now it's taught that it's ok to change llanes in an intersection too. That also never used to be allowed.
Maybe it would be a good idea to have a traffic law program included with our basic TV service, … [Exceeded 200-word limit]


Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2013
Article comment by: Alvin Toffler

They'll be back.

Different company or a better deal with Redflex.


Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2013
Article comment by: Randy Drake

I live in the Phoenix area. When they had photoradar here people would speed down the road (especially on freeways) then slam on the brakes just before they reached the camera. That's when the rear end collisions occurred. Traffic going the same speed is safer, even if they are speeding. Also, it was found that green and yellow lighs were shortened to increase red light runners. When they started this down here our governor (Janet Napolitano) praised it for the revenue it would create, not for the supposed safety that should happen. And, for every million the government made, Redflex made over two million. You can see why they tried so hard to sell it.

Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2013
Article comment by: Long Overdue

Good riddance. Redflex was a corrupt organization that routinely bribed local officials to install their cameras. And, as we all saw, it wasn't long before the corruption took root in the PV police department. Corruption breeds corruption.

Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2013
Article comment by: About Time

Personally, I've always hated the red light cameras the most. Their only job is to catch people making honest mistakes and fine them heavily for it. Speeding is a different issue, and I'm not really sure I care one way or another, but I'm just curious why it was never employed where it would really matter, like in front of elementary schools where people think 30 mph is fine for school crossings

Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2013
Article comment by: Hooty Hoo

I loved the article about the guy who deliberately raised up a Coors can when it took his picture (the can was unopened so it was legal) so he could save it. I got one on Glassford back in 2006 and just threw it away. They can't do anything to you if you just toss it. Only half the pix are adequate, and like 2/3 of the people don't respond, they make $10 on the ones that do, and have to hire people to deal with it. Loser. Loser.


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