City is likely to boost photo enforcement
Council will address tougher traffic controls

Edythe Jensen
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 7, 2007 12:00 AM
Chandler is preparing to beef up its photo traffic enforcement by boosting the number of red-light cameras from 8 to 12 and adding "speed on green" detectors to all of them.

The proposal came during a City Council subcommittee meeting Monday where police said a 2005 pilot project proved the cameras reduced speeding and cut the number of injury accidents in half even when violators received only warnings.

Under the plan that's expected to go to the City Council on Feb. 22, Chandler will continue its contract with Scottsdale-based Redflex Traffic Systems for the service and will pay the company an estimated $1.2 million a year, up from $241,561.

After expenses, revenues from the additional fines would bring the city an estimated $1.7 million - a big change from the current program, which posted a $95,394 loss last year.

A motorist who speeds through a red light might now get two citations, one for the red-light violation and another for speeding. But for Police Chief Sherry Kiyler, "it's not about the number of citations. We want people to slow down because we believe this will reduce the number of injury accidents," she said.

She got the committee's attention with two photos snapped by a red-light camera Sunday morning at Rural and Ray roads. The first shows a minivan moving into the intersection through a red light; in the second photo, a pickup truck slams into the passenger side of the van. Police Cmdr. Matt Christensen said the van driver, an unidentified woman, was not wearing a seat belt and was seriously injured.

Christensen said new technology is reducing the cost of photographing speeders and red-light runners, and the proposed new contract has the city paying Redflex $19 for each time the cameras are activated, down from the current contract's payment of $60 for each camera-related citation.

Although not all photos resulted in citations, the price reduction would mean a significant savings to the city, he said.

With the anticipated higher revenues, Chandler could beef up traffic enforcement in other parts of the community, Kiyler said.

Out of the city's 25 most dangerous intersections, 15 still have no photo enforcement. All but one of those intersections are north of Germann Road.

Since Valley photo enforcement debuted in Paradise Valley more than a decade ago and in Chandler in 2001, drivers have tried ways to skirt tickets, including covering license plates with plastic or wearing disguises.

But images are clearer these days, and motorists driving cars they don't own can't easily escape punishment, Christensen said.

Rental-car firms routinely turn over the names of customers, and many companies take punitive action against employee drivers who violate traffic laws, he said.

Citing a 2007 Behavior Research Center public opinion poll for Scottsdale, Christensen said 73 percent backed photo enforcement and 61 percent believe it improves traffic safety.

When the city hosted a public meeting last year to hear comments on photo enforcement, not a single resident showed up.

Eleven people called or e-mailed the city; eight supported photo enforcement, two opposed it and one was concerned about the impact of its flashing lights, Christensen said. Two of the three councilmen at the committee meeting - Lowell Huggins and Bob Caccamo - were supportive of the additional cameras and speed enforcement. Councilman Jeff Weninger questioned the length of yellow lights and the practice of changing speed limits near camera-equipped intersections.

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