Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Traffic enforcement: It's not just for human beings anymore.
Local governments have been automating the process of catching speeders and red-light runners for years, but traffic scofflaws on state highways always knew they'd be pulled over by a trooper. Now, Arizona is changing that.
A program on Route 101 in Scottsdale uses sensors in the road to monitor vehicle speeds. Cameras snap photos of drivers going more than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. The drivers are then mailed tickets.
Pleased with the results, which include fewer crashes and lower speeds, the Department of Public Safety is taking the effort statewide, purchasing vans to station on highways, unmanned but equipped with cameras to take photos of offenders.
Officials say that the mobility of the vans is a big asset. They can be moved to construction zones, where speeding is especially dangerous, or to any stretch of roadway that emerges as a problem. "These aren't meant to replace police officers," says Lieutenant Bob Ticer, a spokesman with the Department of Public Safety. "A camera system can't smell alcohol; it can't stop to help a motorist who has a flat tire. It allows our officers to have more time to look for other violations."
The cameras initially caused a public outcry in Scottsdale, as automated traffic enforcement almost always does. The Arizona legislature considered banning them, but hasn't acted so far.
Governments are building the future. See it now.