Pinal radar vans ready for action
Christian Richardson, Tribune
Two photo radar vans will be parked along Pinal County roadways beginning Monday as part of a campaign to crack down on lead-foot drivers, officials announced Friday.

But, speeders need not worry yet. The first 30 days will serve as a warning period. But come Aug. 8, citations will go out to anyone caught driving 11 mph over the speed limit.

Pinal County Sheriff Chris Vásquez said the program is the net the sheriff’s office needs to control traffic and crashes.

Pinal County has seen a population boom in the last six years with much of the growth in the Johnson Ranch and Gold Canyon areas, and the influx has brought more vehicles and more collisions.

Crashes on streets such as Gantzel Road, which leads into Apache Junction, Ironwood Road near Apache Junction, and the heavily traveled Hunt Highway have doubled in recent years.

Along Gantzel in 2004 there were 26 collisions. Last year there were 66.

On Ironwood there were 65 crashes in 2004. Last year there were 181.

And on Hunt Highway, which extends from Florence to Queen Creek, there were 78 crashes in 2004 and 215 in 2006.

One photo radar van will be positioned in the Johnson Ranch area, and the other will be used on arterial streets such as Superstition Mountain Drive, Don Donnelly Trail and Kings Ranch Road in the Gold Canyon area.

Scottsdale-based Redflex Traffic Systems provides the minivan, equipment and an employee who works inside the van. One camera captures a photo of the driver’s face and another shoots the vehicle’s license plate.

A sheriff’s deputy reviews the photos to make sure there is a clear shot of the person’s face and to check that the person was driving at least 11 mph over the speed limit.

The minivans are marked with “Pinal County Sheriff” on the driver’s and passenger’s side. A “photo enforcement” sign will be posted 300 feet before the van on roads where the speed limit is 45 mph and above.

The vans will be in operation seven days a week between the hours of 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.