The quest for increased traffic safety on Phoenix streets took a hit last week when the Phoenix City Council opted to end its contract with the city’s intersection camera technology provider.
A proposal to extend the contract with Glendale-based Redflex Traffic Systems for $800,000 failed by a 4-5 vote Wednesday, Nov. 20.
Arizona has the highest rate of red light running fatalities in the United States, according to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The foundation was established by the American Automobile Association in 1947 as a charitable research organization with a mission to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by researching their causes and preventive strategies.
“Deaths caused by red light running are on the rise,” said Jessica Cicchino, vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in a statement earlier this year. “Cameras increase the odds that violators will get caught, and well-publicized camera programs discourage would-be violators from taking those odds. Camera enforcement is a proven way to reduce red light running and save lives.”
Barb Hoffman, executive director of the Red Means Stop Traffic Safety Alliance, said her group was disappointed with the Council’s vote.
“From research that we’ve seen, red-light-running cameras do reduce the amount of deadly crashes in intersections,” she said. “We do support the camera technology; we think it does save lives.”
Hoffman, who joined the Alliance in 2004 after her 14-year-old son Michael was killed by a red-light-runner in Mesa, said the Council is listening to a vocal minority that opposes the technology.
“I think what happens a lot of the times is the people that are not law-abiding citizens, who run red lights and get their picture taken, are the most vocal because they’re angry they got caught,” she said. “They should realize they’re lucky they got caught doing that and not killing somebody. I have no patience for the people that complain to me about getting a ticket.”
Councilman Sal DiCiccio told KTAR News he voted against the proposal because he considers it a “continuous money grab” alongside other municipal services that have recently increased in price, including garbage removal and ride-share trips to the airport.
“There wouldn’t be any ‘money grab’ if nobody ran red lights,” Hoffman said. “If your picture’s not taken in the middle of the intersection, you’re not going to get a ticket in the mail, [and] you don’t have to pay a penny.”
The Associated Press reported that Councilman Michael Nowakowski said he voted against the extension because he was never provided with information on the extension that he had requested months before.
The City of Phoenix currently has stationary red-light cameras at 12 Valley intersections and a number of mobile speed enforcement units that can be placed in school zones and other closely watched areas, according to the AP.