I am absolutely fond of traffic enforcement cameras on interstates and at intersections. (Well, there probably goes half of my readers.) Photo-enforcement is such a touchy subject, amongst us civilians these days, although it really doesn’t make much sense to me why some would be against curtailing speeders and red-light runners. Why doesn’t everyone desire safer roads? There seems to be two main reasons why some people are opposed to the cameras: they’re either certain it’s a ploy by local governments to make money, or they’re convinced an individual should have the right to confront their accuser.
It’s true that a traffic violator cannot cross-examine a camera; however, neither can anyone who’s captured on a surveillance camera when robbing a bank or a convenience store. Should all cases then be dismissed simply because the offender was not caught in the act, by an actual human being, at the time the offense was committed? Of course not. If that sort of logic is acceptable then I would think we’d have no other choice but to also render all security cameras, in all establishments, useless in the aiding of law enforcement. The right to confront the accuser, under these types of circumstances, is a weak argument at best.
Concerning municipalities receiving funds (via fines), from non-abiding citizens, I say, “so what.” If a city can garner a few bucks while making their streets a little safer then good for them. Slow down, don’t run any red lights, and it won’t matter. Besides, obeying traffic laws isn’t all that difficult. Speed cameras on freeways allow for drivers to exceed the posted speed limit by 11mph (at least they did on Arizona’s Loop 101) before snapping a photo of the perpetrator. Unfortunately, most of the municipalities in the Valley of the Sun have discontinued using the traffic enforcement technology. I miss the cameras. I miss them a lot.
The majority of Arizona’s elected officials erroneously embrace the ideology of “personal responsibility” above all else. That apparently includes the public’s safety, and it surely explains why the Grand Canyon State is one of only three states (Montana and Texas being the others) without statewide texting while driving laws. I have lived in the Valley for eight years, and I’ve utilized the same roads when there was and when there wasn’t photo-enforcement; therefore, I know of which I speak. When Arizona had speed cameras on the Loop 101, I’d set my cruise control 7mph over the posted 65mph speed limit. I’m aware I was still breaking the law, but I found 72mph to be my self-appointed “safe speed” in which I thought all drivers should adhere to when on the freeway.
I flowed with the majority of the traffic (at 72mph), and I wasn’t at all concerned about human law enforcers even though they had every right to pull me over. I never had the propensity to tap my brakes either, when going past the photo radar, because I knew I was within the “acceptable” speed. Now that the cameras no longer exist I am literally one of the slowest drivers, if not the slowest, on the 101. I’ve increased my “safe speed” to 73mph (sometimes 74mph) in an attempt to keep pace with the rest of the drivers…but to no avail. The vast number of vehicles whizzing by, and the rate of speed in which they’re traveling, is absurd and undeniably unsafe. Removing the red-light cameras, at most of Arizona’s congested intersections, was just as ridiculous and just as unsafe, and their absence has contributed to the decline of our state’s public safety as well.
It is not uncommon, after one’s traffic light turns green, to encounter one, two, three, and sometimes even four vehicles carelessly (and illegally) veering directly into their path of right of way. That definitely was not the case when the cameras were in place. I have learned over the years that leaving “personal responsibility” up to the individual is almost always a monumental mistake because many people tend to take a lackadaisical approach to their responsibility. One need only read the blog, “Responsibility…And The Blame Game,” by the talented up and coming writer, James McCleary, to understand what I’m saying. Sometimes we need our government to intervene, on behalf of its citizens, to make our world a safer place, and I think this is one of those times. I miss the traffic enforcement cameras…I really do. I wish they would bring ’em back.