Drivers think red light for speed cams a green light for lead feet
Pima County's 20 speed enforcement cameras are no longer snapping down on fast drivers, and traffic sensors show that recorded speeding incidents have spiked as much as 1,000 percent in locations that had been covered by the devices.
Since the cameras were shut down last month, the county has seen an increase in the number of speeding incidents at their locations. While the cameras are off and photo tickets are no longer being issued, speed sensors at the sites are still functional. In the 20 areas formerly enforced by cameras, speeding incidents have increased from 1,769 in Jan. 7 - Jan. 25, 2013, to 9,343 in Jan. 7 - Jan. 25 this year, according to the Pima County Department of Transportation.
The Sheriff's Department is "acutely aware of the significant number of speeding events occurring within the defunct photo enforcement zones," said Deputy Courtney Rodriguez, and will "aggressively enforce" traffic laws near the deactivated camera sites.
There was an increase of 6,254 in incidents of low speeding (11-15 mph over the limit), an increase of 949 in incidents of mid-range speeding (16-19 mph over the limit), and an increase of 372 in incidents of high-range speeding (20-plus mph over the limit) over January of last year. In certain areas, like the Nogales Highway and Swan Road locations, speeding has increased by as much as 1,000 percent, PDOT data showed.
Most of the speeding infractions occur during morning and evening rush hours, Rodriguez said in a news release.
The cameras were shut down when the county's contract with American Traffic Solutions expired Jan. 6. PCSD has been working with the Department of Transportation to develop a new strategy for speed enforcement, Rodriguez said.
The Pima County Speed Management Strategic Initiative aims to focus uniformed law enforcement presence on areas with the highest rates of speeding and collisions. A Feb. 4 memo by PCSD Capt. Byron Gwaltney recommended against continuing the photo enforcement program in favor of more traditional means of speed enforcement. PDOT and the Sheriff's Department will meet on a monthly basis to review collision and speeding statistics and determine where a law enforcement presence is most needed.
For 2013-14, $237,000 in grants from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, some funded from the federal government, included money to purchase radar units for PCSD motorcycle deputies and funding for increased patrols in school zones and DUI enforcement campaigns.