Arizona is the first state in the U.S. to utilize photo enforcement of traffic laws on state highways. The cameras are paired to radar detectors that snap an image of offending vehicles traveling at 11 mph over the speed limit, and the ticket is then mailed to the home of the registered auto. And not just any old fine, either. We're talking $181.50, so we're sure you can see why Arizona residents aren't too excited about the state's fledgling revenue stream.
After nearly two years with photo enforcement, motorists have begun covering the cameras with Post-it notes, boxes and even silly string. One man reportedly gave a camera a beat-down with a pick ax. A report by the Los Angeles Times claims that only 38 percent of fines have been paid thus far, and the revenue generated from big brother law enforcement is closer to $20 milllion rather than the expected $80 million per year. The report shows that an overwhelming number of ticketed drivers are looking to fight their fines in court, and in some cases the courts are reportedly booked up through 2011. A local judge has even sided with speed camera haters. John Keegan, a judge for the Arrowhead Justice Court, has thrown out all 7,000 violations that he has presided over, saying that the cameras were a violation to constitutional rights.
So after all the trouble these cameras have caused, why haven't they been removed from the road? Arizona law enforcement apparently like the cameras, for one. Lt. Jeff King of the Arizona Department of Public Safety reportedly told the Times that traffic fatalities are down to the lowest point in 15 years as a result of the cameras and tougher drinking and driving laws. All the pressure coming from citizens to get rid of the speed traps could be weighing on politicians, though, as some lawmakers are looking into the possibility of altering the current photo radar system. Governor Jan Brewer is even encouraging legislators to put the speed cameras to a vote in November.
We're guessing if the speed cameras make their way to the ballot, the cameras could well be the biggest reason voters hit the polls this November.
[Source: Los Angeles Times]