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Editorial: Photo radar tickets are better than alternative


The Town of Prescott Valley in October 2006 contracted with the Redflex company and installed photo radar in an effort to stop a growing speeding and red-light-running problem.

According to town statistics, the Prescott Valley Police Department between 2004 and 2006 investigated 10 fatal crashes, hundreds of serious injury crashes, and more than 1,000 non-injury crashes. The investigation showed that speed, along with impairment, were the leading causes of these crashes.

The cameras had immediate results. Accident rates and red-light-running incidents were reduced by 30 percent, town statistics show.

However, the debate over the cameras has continued. Comments from people who don't like the photo enforcement cameras are countered by those from people who are happy about the improved safety and who say if drivers slow down, they have nothing to worry about.

Opponents have asserted that photo enforcement is a "cash cow" for the town, despite the fact that the town receives just 13 percent of the money collected from the average ticket. Additionally, people say the cameras create an unwelcoming ambience, both for tourism and business.

This week, a photo radar audit revealed that some Prescott Valley police officers dismissed infractions for family members. At the same time, a Chicago Tribune exposé found evidence of corruption involving Redflex and Chicago city government officials. In light of this, along with growing public aversion to the cameras, the town is rethinking its contract with Redflex, which expires this fall.

But consider this: Two of the cameras in Prescott Valley are installed at critical intersections - Prescott East Highway at the west end of town, and Glassford Hill and Long Look at the entrance to Bradshaw Mountain High School. One retired local teacher said he used to see red-light-runners at the school intersection on a daily basis. Highway 69 at Prescott East Highway also sees some of the heaviest traffic in the town. Most people who drive in Prescott Valley can name other areas that, because of their configuration and people's lack of driving safety, create constantly dangerous situations.

The question Prescott Valley residents now must ask themselves is, "If we do away with the cameras, how will we keep critical traffic areas of our community safe?"

When all we have to do is pay a fine or attend traffic school if we run afoul of these photo-enforcement cameras, it's one thing. It's completely another if we have to mourn a high-schooler, a mom or dad, or another family member because someone ran a red light, or their speed caused them to lose control and have a collision.

The Town Council will hear a presentation on its Redflex contract and the town's options at 5:30 p.m. today in council chambers. This is an informational meeting only, not for public comment. If you're concerned, be there.

This decision is one with life-or-death consequences.




 

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