Arizona: Sheriff Caught Fudging Photo Radar Stats
Pinal County, Arizona claim from December that photo radar reduced accidents on the Hunt Highway turns out to be false.

A pair of photo radar vans have been mailing automated citations to vehicle owners in Pinal County, Arizona since August 8, 2007. In just four months, 4500 citations were issued generating significant revenue, especially on the Hunt Highway. In December, a Sheriff's office press release made the astonishing claim that accidents had fallen on this heavily traveled two-lane route by 53 percent as a result of the enforcement effort.

"It's very effective," Pinal County Sheriff's Office Corporal Paul Compton said at the time. "It's slowing people down and ultimately saving lives."

The East Valley Tribune newspaper reported that this claim turned out to be false. Instead of being down 53 percent, accidents increased 16 percent during the period speed cameras were used, as compared to the same period in 2006 without cameras. The Sheriff's office had issued its statement based on preliminary data that failed to account for 55 crashes that were not immediately entered into the accident database.

So far in 2008, accidents are slightly down from 2007, but the number of injury crashes has not changed.

Source: Hunt Highway crash figures double those reported (East Valley Tribune (AZ), 6/2/2008)

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