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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : opinions : opinions September 29, 2014


3/20/2013 10:00:00 PM
Editorial: Photo radar tickets are better than alternative
Courtesy of the Prescott Valley Tribune


The Town of Prescott Valley in October 2006 contracted with the Redflex company and installed photo radar in an effort to stop a growing speeding and red-light-running problem.

According to town statistics, the Prescott Valley Police Department between 2004 and 2006 investigated 10 fatal crashes, hundreds of serious injury crashes, and more than 1,000 non-injury crashes. The investigation showed that speed, along with impairment, were the leading causes of these crashes.

The cameras had immediate results. Accident rates and red-light-running incidents were reduced by 30 percent, town statistics show.

However, the debate over the cameras has continued. Comments from people who don't like the photo enforcement cameras are countered by those from people who are happy about the improved safety and who say if drivers slow down, they have nothing to worry about.

Opponents have asserted that photo enforcement is a "cash cow" for the town, despite the fact that the town receives just 13 percent of the money collected from the average ticket. Additionally, people say the cameras create an unwelcoming ambience, both for tourism and business.

This week, a photo radar audit revealed that some Prescott Valley police officers dismissed infractions for family members. At the same time, a Chicago Tribune exposé found evidence of corruption involving Redflex and Chicago city government officials. In light of this, along with growing public aversion to the cameras, the town is rethinking its contract with Redflex, which expires this fall.

But consider this: Two of the cameras in Prescott Valley are installed at critical intersections - Prescott East Highway at the west end of town, and Glassford Hill and Long Look at the entrance to Bradshaw Mountain High School. One retired local teacher said he used to see red-light-runners at the school intersection on a daily basis. Highway 69 at Prescott East Highway also sees some of the heaviest traffic in the town. Most people who drive in Prescott Valley can name other areas that, because of their configuration and people's lack of driving safety, create constantly dangerous situations.

The question Prescott Valley residents now must ask themselves is, "If we do away with the cameras, how will we keep critical traffic areas of our community safe?"

When all we have to do is pay a fine or attend traffic school if we run afoul of these photo-enforcement cameras, it's one thing. It's completely another if we have to mourn a high-schooler, a mom or dad, or another family member because someone ran a red light, or their speed caused them to lose control and have a collision.

The Town Council will hear a presentation on its Redflex contract and the town's options at 5:30 p.m. today in council chambers. This is an informational meeting only, not for public comment. If you're concerned, be there.

This decision is one with life-or-death consequences.


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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, March 23, 2013
Article comment by: You Jest

Blah Blah Blah...Obviously the PV folks yapping about taking away photo radar do not get it that they are the problem, not photo radar.

What tourist would want to visit PV with the mentality level that you are demonstrating publicly in this forum?

With that mentaility it would make perfect cost-effective sense to have several LEO's stationed at intersections and along the highway to write tickets all day. Most assuredly that is why they are highly skilled and trained...to sit in a car all day giving you your hand-delivered ticket.

"Advertise PV as not having photo radar and the tourists will come"?? Good grief.. is it the reality that you didn't make it past 5th grade that these astute comments fall out of your head?

Photo radar is not the reason people do not come to PV...a clue might the IQ level represented in Reader's Comments.

If you are so camera shy...don't go to the bank, grocery market, the mall, a bar, a parking lot, any public facility or have a smart meter in your home. Learn to drive and obey the law and stop blabbing about photo radar.


Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Lyle

I have had my share of tickets over the past 50 years of driving. I don't like the cops for giving me the tickets or the cameras either, BUT I deserved every one of them and paid the tickets. You can hire more cops to write the tickets and triple the fines, raise taxes to pay for the cops and patrol car, OR ,slow down like I have. I think All cameras everywhere should be removed it invades my personal space.

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: Kurt Womack

I attended the Thursday meeting, Mayor Skoog was gracious to allow the public to speak out about the Photo-Enforcement.
After my comments (and others) about the shady reputation of Red Flex, looks like the contract with that company will expire. I never did like having a company from Australia making bank off the American taxpayer provided roadways, I would call it Vulture Capitalism. I also never liked the fact that so-called Clean Elections is funded by tickets, only about 1/6 is from the $5 voluntary tax check-off good luck finding a politician who ran with "Clean" Elections funding who would be against Photo-Enforcement, pretty clever huh?
We all know people slow down near the cameras, and then floor it after passing them. Same with the permanent cameras at intersections, the other locations still have too many idiots running the red light. So, cameras do NOT automatically make better drivers.
The only entity benefiting has been Red Flex.


Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: TO: Wellcum2 Nannywrld

You have no "rights" that allow you to drive on the street - you are granted a privilege only after you earn it. It would behoove you to learn the difference.

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: Zeigh Owensby

Message to administrator of these comments:

Thank you for posting my comment. Could you please correct an obvious typographical error for me? Please change "minute" to "seconds" in this sentence (fourth paragraph down):

"Many studies (even from RedFlex) show up to 60% of the average red-light violations occur within the first half second of the light change and 90% within the first minute."

Readers probably know that no yellow light lasts a whole minute...


Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: Whiskey Row Fan

What's the name of the (person) who wrote this sad excuse of an Op-Ed piece?

I have no problem with various point of view, but for gosh sakes, get your facts correct and display a bit of critical thinking when you put the piece together.

*head in hands shaking*


Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: Second Look

I'm willing to bet that if the City of Prescott Valley were to get rid of all the photo radar including the Ford Escape photo vehicles, they could let the entire State know by putting on a HUGE media tourism blitz... the City would see a big bump in economic cash by out-of-towners shortly afterwards.

I've seen other towns go on a media frenzie by putting out professional commercials and pushing for tourist to come patronize their towns... offering to people what their towns have that would appeal to tourists, why then couldn't the City of Prescott or Prescott Valley do the same?

If you're going to get rid of the photo radar, make it worth while and let everyone know about it and then also let them know why your town is worth coming to visit. Get the tourism trade going again, put your heads together and figure out how you can benefit from the changes.


Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: Ray Farber

Well now it has been proven that photo radar does NOT stop people from speeding. The officer's wife had (i believe) SEVEN photo radar tickets that the officer threw in the trash. After the first flash did Mrs. officer slow down? Obviously not, otherwise she would not have been flashed all the other times.
Accidents happen...sorry, but the cameras do not stop accidents. I would bet more accidents happen in the Fry's parking lot than on highway 69. You don't have to be speeding to have an accident.
Accidents are caused by people who are not paying attention while driving.


Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: Mr Maverick

This letter is BS. It appears it is written by the company that installs the photo cameras. Just a reminder to the author that we the citizens of Arizona are quite familiar with photo radar and do not need your opinion on them. The majority of Arizonans do not want them and the State has done away with almost all of them. Only a hand full of small towns have not learned their lesson yet.

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: Elizabeth May

Last night I attended the Prescott Valley Town Council meeting. There were 100 people there. I counted. 12 citizens were allowed to address the council. All twelve were against the photo radar.

The first speaker was a fireman. He was most informative in my opinion because he had accident statistics. As it turns out there was a national decline in automobile accidents during the same period of time that Prescott Valley experienced their decline. Moreover the City of Prescott experienced the same 30% decline in accidents without photo radar.

In the end the council agreed that they will honor the remaining contract with Redflex, which expires Oct. 3 of this year, but they will not renew a contract with Redflex. They were strongly leaning toward going a year without the cameras and seeing how it goes. I think that is a good solution for everyone. Everyone except for Mary Mallory who doesn't seem to have a problem taking a stand on the issue.

I only wish they had committed to the one year pilot as they were calling it instead of leaning strongly toward it. I hope they will simply vote at their next meeting for the one year no camera test that they seemed to agree to. I left the meeting believing there would be a year after the Redflex contract expires with no cameras.


Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: Zeigh Owensby

As a retired firefighter of 27 years, I have personally seen the devastation of vehicle accident injuries and fatalities that nobody should ever encounter. I want to do whatever I can to stop such tragedies, within reason. Automated traffic enforcement is no more of a solution than restricting all traffic to 15 MPH. What is needed are higher driver training standards, stronger (live police) enforcement on distracted driving, better designed intersections, and more.

Prescott Valley's safety mantra for the cameras is that they have decreased accidents by 30%. I recently presented to the Town Council a portion of the traffic overview report from the City of PRESCOTT stating that their accidents had decreased almost the exact same percentage over the same amount of time. The kicker is that Prescott has no automated traffic enforcement. This comparison is the same with PARADISE Valley and Fountain Hills, where only one community has cameras. It also mirrors a national trend showing accident rates have decreased, very likely because of the economy. The Photo Enforcement Industry is quick to take credit for such declines in accident rates, sometimes even in places that there are no cameras in their "spill-over effect" spin.

How about the photo enforcement program being cost-neutral for the Prescott Valley? Taking the publicized violation figures from fiscal year 2011-12, photo radar was responsible for issuing about 27,700 speeding tickets and 3,200 citations for red-light violations. Thats 30900 citations and Prescott Valley's take is $$33.26 per ticket, equalling $1,027,734 in revenue for that year. What exactly is neutral about that? At $210 average ticket cost, that is $6,489,000 that has been taken from drivers of this community, much of it going to a private corporation, RedFlex, that is the center of the biggest bribery scandal that Chicago has ever seen.

Oh, but you don't get a ticket unless you are guilty. Guess again for many drivers. Many studies (even from RedFlex) show up to 60% of the average red-light violations occur within the first half second of the light change and 90% within the first minute. I counted the yellow light timing at the intersection of Highway 69 and Prescott East Highway on three consecutive days and at different times of the day. All tests found the yellow light to be 4.1 seconds. Did you know that is 0.9 seconds under Institute of Traffic Engineers standards on such timing based upon raw physics? That blink of an eye might not sound like much, but I personally saw in 2001 when a city worker from Mesa correctly recalculated the yellow light timing at an intersection in my fire station area and overnight the violations decreased by 73%! Big surprise, but the camera vendor took legal action against the city because it was a violation of their contract and they were "loosing" allot of money. It's all about safety, right?

I am sure that the Prescott Valley leaders want to do the right thing, but automated traffic enforcement is not the answer, as it always invites mismanagement and sometimes corruption. Unfortunately, this community has already seen the effects of both locally and nationally. Hopefully they will listen to the outpouring of voters who showed up to the last meeting, ALL of them expressing the urgency to ban the cameras from Prescott Valley.


Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: Wellcum2 Nannywrld

Why not require GPS in all vehicles, issue speeding , stopping , tickets. Why stop there, require breathalyzers in all vehicles too. How bout keeping records of where every vehicle goes so we can solve crimes. Include a user ID so they know who is driving. Give the govt., the ability to eclectically shut down your auto. Wake up people and stop giving our rights away.

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: Common Sense

Here is an alternative, have roundabouts, then you have to slow down and observe whats going on around you. You will have to learn how to 'yield', and that is a big problem for a lot of aggressive drivers, and Prescott is full of aggressive drivers.
My vote is for 'ROUNDABOUTS' because they give you something else to think about besides the gas pedal.


Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: If You Live In PV

You HAVE to pay the tickets - they WILL come to your house and serve you if you don't. So yes, it sucks to have the cameras but what really sucks is the idiot that runs a red light. They are the reason to keep them in place. It is hard to argue the validity of a the issued tickets considering a POLICE OFFICER dumped SEVEN tickets his wife had gotten!!

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: Your So Wrong

Fiscal Conservative please explain how you are going to tell the judge you didn't believe you were in violation when behind a moving billboard (large truck) that is moving forward through an intersection and you are at the legal safe distance behind it only to learn too late he drove through a stale yellow and by the time you enter you are flashed. Mostly because your view of the lights were blocked ?? Was that you intent to run the light??? I'm more concerned of the intentional violators, intoxicated violators which can only be verified by a physical presence of an officer. I'm also sure, a study performed on "calls for service per officer" study would reflect along with other duties there is plenty of time to make a stop to issue tickets to and from calls. Been there done that!


Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: Constitutional Rights

This issue is first and foremost a constitutional one which because of the recent ruling in Ohio is now bound to be heard by the Supreme Court in the not too distant future. We are supposedly guaranteed due process by the constitution which is impossible with these cameras. The "accuser" in this case is ultimately Redflex - NOT the PV authorities or any other city who chooses to license and install this crap. I for one hope the cameras are removed for this reason. If we cannot find ways to keep our streets safe without becoming a police state, then we are lost as a society and and the constitution and bill of rights become meaningless documents.

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: Your So Wrong

"Its a Life or Death" situation? You're s-o-o-o- Wrong. If you want to believe that in your limited wisdom, so be it. In all actuallity you are dealing with human nature. Police visibility goes much further in monitoring violations than the camera. Police Visibility leads to voluntary compliance of speed laws. Hiding camera vans or police units solely for the purpose of "momentary violations" passing through the window of opportunity goes against images of fairness and ethics of our local law enforcement.
I've watch time and time again of cars trailing through fresh red lights. Cleary spending the money by placing visible indicators for the police to spot and be able to testify the vehicle ran a red light would be money much better spent. As it stands, a police unit not being able to see the suspected violator's actually run a light that was red can do no more but warn the violator. And I've seen where they don't even make an attempt to do that.


Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Steele

A part of me says a camera and computer is impartial and more accurate than a human being. But I also don't think it's right to have these units hidden or in use after dark. The general public is not in favor of photo radar period. And the costs are astronomical. Does anyone have any idea how much Prescott Valley businesses loose every year from other localities because of our photo radar?

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: @ Obey the Law

Then you won't mind if we put a few cameras in your home, would you? After all, you are a law abiding citizen...

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: Captain Howdy

I do not live in PV but I do work there sometimes and drive through on my way out and into town.
For those afraid of "Big Brother", I say obey the laws and the camera will not take a picture. The cameras only go off if you are speeding or run the light. They are NOT on all the time.
I would like to see cameras in Prescott as well. There are certain intersections and roads that need them.
If people stop or slow down because of the cameras, I am all for it. The cameras for e people into obeying laws. If people did, there would be no need for the cameras.
As far as corruption issue, I am sure that there are other companies out there that offer a similar service.


Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: Phil Whitehead

If it's "All about safety", then ask yourself why then, did Redflex SUE the city of Tempe for "Allowing too many" people to go to traffic school? Want to know why? here is the reason. IT CUT REDFLEX OUT OF THE MONEY. Can anyone spell hypocrite? Sure...go ahead and try to tell me it's a safety issue. Then try to explain why they are again in trouble for bribing politicians in Chicago (big surprise there...) to keep 'em rolling in the windy city. Can't come up with a good answer? Look no further than your checkbook. They want YOUR MONEY. It is no different than any other scam operation. This state has at least one law that specifically states that "civilians shall not take part in any traffic enforcement operation, except for parking enforcement and traffic control". Civilians can park cars and issue parking tickets. That's it folks. The chief has no authority to extend any other powers to any civilians to do above those things. That means that the folks who set these things up, take them down, process the "tickets", mail them, stamp on the forged cop's signature, etc, are all violating that law. As are the department officials, the town managers, the courts, and the prosecutors who allow this to go on. If you don't believe me, look it up for yourself. I really don't care one way or another, so, do your own reading. All these people are supposed to follow the same laws as you and I. It is not as simple as "slow down and you have nothing to worry about, or just bring in a different company and the problems will go away". The issues with the laws will still be here, and the possibility to cover up for one another will also still be there. If you support this, then it is the same as supporting organized crime. (As Mr. Tarkowski has said many times, "We're Prescott Valley and we'll do anything we want".) This, I am sick of. It is high time to get this community's integrity back, no matter what Lora Lee Nye says...some pillar of virtue that one is...

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013
Article comment by: Obey the Law

It's only those drivers who don't want to be held accountable for their lousy driving that fail to support photo enforcement.

Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Article comment by: Second Look

I have a different take on the cameras and statistical accident info...

Let people crash into eachother, rarely are there any severe injuries as a reslut and if so... Cars get fixed at local shops, money stays in the City and helps support local businesses. Police Officers write the tickets themselves and the money again stays in the City and helps the economy.

Hospital visits of said injuries that so called "statistics" state a 30 percent increase will become automatic upon taking down the cameras... medical bills paid out stay in the City and also helps the economy.

As far as I can see it, taking down the cameras will help improve our economy. Roads will get built, jails, schools and almost every other department in the area will have funding that is not here at the moment. I know most people will think I'm actually being serious here instead of mostly sarcastic, but at least I'm pointing out another benefit of the lesser evil... AND people will learn to stop speeding and running red lights without the cameras being there to intrude on them.


Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Article comment by: not so fast

I'm sorry I do not agree. I see this every time I pass by a camera/van:

1. Speed past me for doing the speed limit obviously angry.

2. Cut me off to make a point. It must be important to be first.

3. Approach intersection all the while slamming on brakes.

4. Upon exit from intersection - floor it.

5. Continue down road driving WAY over the speed limit.

Nothing can stop them EXCEPT a police cruiser with a real human inside ready to take action.


Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Article comment by: Craig Arps

If that is the case the person responsible will be the one who drove the vehicle and they should be justly punished, not the people who want to take down the cameras. There is no way to prove that such an accident would have been prevented by them. Personal responsibility is an American value and it applies here. If I get to be 80 years old and I'm looking on at my grandchildren living in a world where the government uses cameras to enforce laws with impunity, then I will have no one but myself to blame for not taking personal responsibility to guard my liberty today.



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