Room with a view: San Francisco
Rainy days on the East Coast... and a bit of a US Airways rant

Photo Radar Cameras... duh, what am I missing...

Photo radarPhoenix recently introduced Photo Radar Cameras on a number of the major highways around the city: stationary camera setups photograph vehicles, and their drivers, that exceed the posted speed limit by more than 11MPH. Various organizations and some legislators immediately took up the gauntlet opposing the use of the cameras... a cause celebre. I guess I don't fully understand what is going on because the use of these devices strikes me as a good thing.. even in considering the "negatives" being pushed.

Here is my opinion:

Radar war 1.   Photo radar slows down traffic on very busy, often over- congested, highways. This in turn cuts down on accidents and saves lives. Truth be known, if you drive a lot in Phoenix (I commute daily and make many trips from north Phoenix to the airport south of town), you would be a HUGE advocate of anything that slows down the crazies on our roads. Why is this a bad thing?

2. Those opposing say that it is just a scheme to bring money into the government's severely depleted coffers at the expense of drivers. I'm sorry, but where is it wrong that if you exceed the speed limit... a violation of the law... you have to pay a fine? I think this is a GOOD thing: why not help balance the budget by fining those who break the law? You don't like the speed limits? Go through the government processes to get them changed, but until then, the last time I checked posted speed limits are the law and those breaking the law should expect to be penalized if caught.

3. Some complain that the "flashes" from the camera lighting will cause accidents. I have driven by the photo radar sites late at night, seen the flash from the camera and somehow managed to survive... truth be known, it had no effect on my driving!

4.   Another complaint: the photo cameras force people to slow down and that creates more hazards on the roads because of slower moving traffic. Nah, I don't think so: my experience with the photo radar locations is that EVERYONE slows down, thus no hazard. Not to mention that the idiot zipping in and out of traffic at considerably over the speed limit is a much bigger hazard.

5. How about "drivers will realize they are at a photo radar camera, slam on their brakes to slow down and cause other drivers to back-end them." That is just ludicrous. I have not heard about or seen a report of a single incident justifying this contention. Come on: there are even signs 1/2 mile and 300 yd before the photo radar locations warning drivers they are coming up on a photo shoot. Anyone driving that fast needs to be off the roads anyway.

6. Some argue that it depersonalizes law enforcement. OK, maybe it does... so what? Break the law, pay the fine. 'Strikes me as just a more efficient way to catch speeders.

7. And then there are those that claim Invasion of Privacy. Ridiculous: you have no expectation of privacy when driving on a public thoroughfare and certainly none when breaking the law in public.  

8. The hardware makes mistakes. So? The same can be said for the Law Enforcement guy sitting in his car holding a radar gun. This is the ONLY argument that would give cause to question Photo Radar Cameras, but I have not seen anything documenting any pattern of inaccuracies. Besides, if you think you have been wronged, you can still have your Day In Court, just as if a cop had stopped you.   

Conclusion: this strikes me as Win-Win situation: decrease accidents while helping our budget by fining law breakers. It is a good thing... even if I get tagged by one of the cameras! 


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Nice try Bill. You're a tool, plain and simple.

Bill Terry

The response of someone who has no valid response.


There is never a good reason to sacrifice liberty for safety. If safety is so important, we should all be living in self-contained government dormitories where no one needs to go anywhere for anything, and you have to get permission to go or to have visitors come in. After all, that would be the only way to guarantee all of us complete safey right?

Sorry. I'm not willing to give away my freedom for a little safety. I'm also smart enough to realize that the guy next to me going 5mph over the limit is much less a risk to me than the person next to him talking on their cell phone or trying to eat a Big Mac while driving, or the teenager or elderly driver behind them.

There's a website that completely addresses all of the bad things about PhotoRadar and it is

Not only are the safety claims false, but in many cases, cameras cause an INCREASE in accidents. Who would support a device the causes more accidents? Additionally, the municipalities that are installing cameras are not exhausting non-intrusive engineering solutions before resorting to cameras. Plenty of improvements can be made to improve safety on roads and intersections without installing cameras. If anything, cameras should be a last resort, not a first resort.

And by the way, here is Sheriff Babeu of Pinal County claiming that fatalities doubled where cameras were installed. Kind of scary.

Bill Terry

I advocate banning all but hands-free cell phone use, making nuisance/ distractions (eating, etc) a violation and periodic license renewals with testing.

Sacrifice liberty? That just doesn't cut it. If you wish to worry about sacrifices of liberty, be concerned about what our government is doing with human rights or the intrusive tax laws or pervasive invasions of privacy though institutional use of monitoring technology or even silly HOA rules, but not having your picture taken as you drive down the road by a camera whose action is based on a violation of the law!

If the loud noises made by those opposed to photo radar have any affect at all, it will be to provide a Loyal Opposition that will, in fact, keep the use of Photo Radar from being anything more than a way to catch speeders and keep the company's contracted to manage the process honest.

I would hardly call the use of photo radar cameras a first resort but certainly agree that much can be done with improving the safety of our roads, including doing a better job teaching driving skills and reviewing antiquated road rules.

Only time will tell on the safety issue. As usual, both sides can trot out their "experts." I prefer the logic of safety through compliance with existing laws.


The Kangaroo Court that is Photo Radar simply sets State sponsored traps that generate revenue.

National studies conclude the safety aspects are outweighed in terms of property damage and loss of life due to increased collisions.

The addiction to easy money for the municipality often back fires when those who get tickets in the mail simply fail to respond and force the state to hire a server who has to track down them down. When those who are served do not cave in to the intimidation and demand a court hearing, it overwhelms the courts in short order. When the people catch on to the scam and confront their real accuser, the state, the profitability of the program goes negative. Then the State finds out, the dirty money they thought they were going to have costs them instead.

Then the cameras come down.

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