Tough luck, leadfoots - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Tough luck, leadfoots

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Posted: Thursday, August 26, 2004 10:37 pm | Updated: 4:37 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

People who exceed the speed limit hate photo radar. And it’s been fun watching them interviewed on TV near Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard, where Scottsdale police’s new mid-block camera setup is snapping pictures of the lead-footed at the rate of one every minute.

They whine they’re denied a sporting chance to zoom past the distracted gaze of John Law in patrol cruisers. They wonder how much money it’s making the city.

The answers to both of these laments is, in order: too bad and so what?

Driving on an oval track is a sport; driving on public roads is not — it’s life and death. And every dollar put in the city treasury from fines — based on legal and proper citations (and courts continually support photo radar as

legitimate) — is one less dollar taken from taxpayers.

Besides, Wright's speed limit is 45 mph and, as it is almost universally, photo-radar sensors there are tuned to photograph only those going 11 mph above that — 56 mph or more — so “speed trap” complaints ring hollow.

Like any technology, photo radar can be abused, but local police have in the main been using it correctly. Which is why we hope that area police associations stop bad-mouthing its planned use on Loop 101 near and through Scottsdale — the scene of higher-than-average numbers of fatal accidents — as some sort of substitute for hiring more cops.

Photo radar on Wright and on the 101 was not proposed on an either-or basis, nor should it be. The Legislature and the city should be funding more positions for state troopers and traffic cops as well as installing more traffic-enforcement cameras.

Live officers can immediately spot drunk drivers or run down suspicious license numbers of wanted suspects that still cameras cannot. But just because cameras can’t do everything is no reason that they shouldn’t do anything.

Still, the best way to avoid citations, whether from a human or a machine, is to simply drive slower. Now, there’s a sporting proposition for you.”

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