Phoenix recently introduced Photo Radar Cameras on a number of the major highways around the city: stationary camera setups photograph vehicles, and their drivers, that exceed the posted speed limit by more than 11MPH. Various organizations and some legislators immediately took up the gauntlet opposing the use of the cameras... a cause celebre. I guess I don't fully understand what is going on because the use of these devices strikes me as a good thing.. even in considering the "negatives" being pushed.
Here is my opinion:
1. Photo radar slows down traffic on very busy, often over- congested, highways. This in turn cuts down on accidents and saves lives. Truth be known, if you drive a lot in Phoenix (I commute daily and make many trips from north Phoenix to the airport south of town), you would be a HUGE advocate of anything that slows down the crazies on our roads. Why is this a bad thing?
2. Those opposing say that it is just a scheme to bring money into the government's severely depleted coffers at the expense of drivers. I'm sorry, but where is it wrong that if you exceed the speed limit... a violation of the law... you have to pay a fine? I think this is a GOOD thing: why not help balance the budget by fining those who break the law? You don't like the speed limits? Go through the government processes to get them changed, but until then, the last time I checked posted speed limits are the law and those breaking the law should expect to be penalized if caught.
3. Some complain that the "flashes" from the camera lighting will cause accidents. I have driven by the photo radar sites late at night, seen the flash from the camera and somehow managed to survive... truth be known, it had no effect on my driving!
4. Another complaint: the photo cameras force people to slow down and that creates more hazards on the roads because of slower moving traffic. Nah, I don't think so: my experience with the photo radar locations is that EVERYONE slows down, thus no hazard. Not to mention that the idiot zipping in and out of traffic at considerably over the speed limit is a much bigger hazard.
5. How about "drivers will realize they are at a photo radar camera, slam on their brakes to slow down and cause other drivers to back-end them." That is just ludicrous. I have not heard about or seen a report of a single incident justifying this contention. Come on: there are even signs 1/2 mile and 300 yd before the photo radar locations warning drivers they are coming up on a photo shoot. Anyone driving that fast needs to be off the roads anyway.
6. Some argue that it depersonalizes law enforcement. OK, maybe it does... so what? Break the law, pay the fine. 'Strikes me as just a more efficient way to catch speeders.
7. And then there are those that claim Invasion of Privacy. Ridiculous: you have no expectation of privacy when driving on a public thoroughfare and certainly none when breaking the law in public.
8. The hardware makes mistakes. So? The same can be said for the Law Enforcement guy sitting in his car holding a radar gun. This is the ONLY argument that would give cause to question Photo Radar Cameras, but I have not seen anything documenting any pattern of inaccuracies. Besides, if you think you have been wronged, you can still have your Day In Court, just as if a cop had stopped you.
Conclusion: this strikes me as Win-Win situation: decrease accidents while helping our budget by fining law breakers. It is a good thing... even if I get tagged by one of the cameras!