Bill to ban photo-enforcement cameras making its way through committee

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX – Photo-enforcement cameras have long been a source of controversy here in Arizona, but a bill that’s making its way through committee could make them a thing of the past.

In 2007, Arizona became the first state in the country to roll out a photo-enforcement on its freeways. The state program was controversial from the beginning, so much so that many of the cameras were vandalized and some drivers went to extremes to avoid tickets.

Last year, Gov. Jan Brewer did not renew a contract with Redflex, the company that ran the network of 78 fixed and mobile speed-enforcement cameras that were in place along several Valley freeways. As a result, the cameras were removed. While the state program was scrapped, several cities do still use cameras.

Senate Bill 1352 states that “a photo enforcement system shall not be used by a local authority or any agency of this state to identify violators [of traffic-control devices or posted speed limits].” If passed into law, the measure would effectively ban the use of automated speed and red-light cameras throughout Arizona.

Opponents of the bill say photo-enforcement cameras a good for safety., reducing the number of wreck and fatalities.

Pam Woods said a red-light camera might have prevented the wreck that left her young grandson paralyzed from the waist down. “If there’s a police officer there, we slow down,” she said. “If there’s a camera there, you’ll slow down. If you’ve been through what we’ve been through in our family, you’ll know – you need to slow down because this stuff does happen.”

Those who support the proposed ban on photo-enforcement say the cameras are only about generating revenue. Some say at worst, the cameras put drivers in danger.

“These photo-radar systems are clogging our courts,” said Shawn Dow of “They are violating our constitutional rights, and they are putting you at risk. All these cities are lowering their yellow-light times so they can make more money. That puts drivers at risk. It makes the intersections more dangerous.”

SB 1352 is still in the early stages of the process and has a long way to go before becoming law. Lawmakers say they do have enough votes to move the bill along to the next step.