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Photo enforcement needed to save lives

Photo enforcement needed
to save lives

John D. Wintersteen
Special for The Arizona Republic
Feb. 26, 2006 12:00 AM

Photo enforcement is about your safety and mine. Whatever the arguments raised against it, the simple fact is this: It works.

I know because the town of Paradise Valley has the longest continually operating photo-enforcement program in the United States. It reduces automobile crashes and their severity in ways that neither law enforcement nor traffic engineers can replicate.

Over the years, much has been done to reduce the number and severity of collisions. DUI enforcement, the use of safety belts and air bags, roads designed to reduce collisions, graduated licenses for young drivers and changed attitudes have made a positive difference. But there's a limit to what they can further accomplish. In the future, only small incremental gains are anticipated.

Conversely, photo enforcement has the potential to save lives on a large scale by influencing behavior on an equally large scale. That's because a significant number of motorists don't need a traffic citation to change their driving habits. This is key to photo enforcement's deterrent effect.

Drivers know that no matter how many officers are assigned to patrol a given street or section of freeway, they can catch only a handful of those speeding. An officer who is highly efficient can issue about three or four citations an hour. When compared to the extent of the speeding problem and the inherent efficiencies of photo enforcement, those few citations are a small drop in a very big bucket.

Drivers also know that if they remain alert for patrol cars they can usually slow down in time to avoid a ticket. Seeing an officer stopped on the side of the road issuing a citation is even better, because an officer issuing a citation isn't an officer following you. Additionally, traffic pursuits and stops are risky for everyone on the road.

Attorney Kathleen Carey

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