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Petition against red-light cameras revived in Tucson

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Randy Metcalf/The Explorer

The Pima County Board of Supervisors has turned off the 11 speed cameras scattered around Tucson. Currently there is a petition in the City of Tucson to ban red-light cameras.

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An attempt to ban red light cameras is once again under way in the City of Tucson.

After city officials rejected a petition last year due to the fact a large number of signatures came from non-city residents, Tucson resident John Kromko is leading the charge to gain the support needed to place the issue on a ballot and send it to the voters.

About a month into the effort, Kromko said the petition group, called Traffic Justice, is seeing significant support from city residents.

A former Arizona legislator, Kromko and volunteers began the latest petition on Dec. 13 at the Tucson Street Fair, where they collected 3,672 signatures in three days. 

To date, the group has received close to 6,000 signatures, slightly less than half the 12,700 needed before the petition deadline of July 2015.

The goal, according to Kromko, is to get a quick start out of the gates.

“We have a year and a half to complete this, but we are trying to get this out of the way,” he said. “We want to get this done.”

If enough signatures are collected and the red-light cameras are voted down, the timing would closely follow the Pima County Board of Supervisors’ decision to not renew their contract with American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the private company that owns the camera equipment in both the city and county. 

In the case of the county, 11 speed cameras were consequently turned off and will be removed before February. 

The board’s decision, according to Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, was based on negative public opinion and a cost-revenue comparison. 

The city, however, recently showed support for the cameras by renewing its contract with ATS.

According to a report provided by ATS, the number of collisions in intersections with cameras has been reduced from 188 in 2006 to 74 in 2012, the most recent year with tracking results. 

There are a total of eight red light cameras within the city. The first was installed on Grant and Tanque Verde in 2007, the most recent at 6th Avenue and Ajo Way in 2011. 

The company has more than 300 customers and 3,000 road safety camera systems installed in the United States and Canada. 

The cameras automatically photograph motorists who run red lights or who are traveling more than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. Based on information collected by the photograph, additional citations can be given for seatbelt violations or invalid registration or drivers license. 

Not only does Kromko argue safety results haven’t been adequately proven, he adds there are several problems with red light cameras, a main one being lack of fairness.

“The bulk of the money comes from people making left turns who do not intend to break the law,” said Kromko. “If the car in front of you doesn’t floor it, there is no way to avoid a ticket if you get the red light.”

Additionally, Kromko said the “Stop Here” line, which is situated several feet past the intersection’s crosswalk, is misleading.

“The company deliberately worked it out that way so they could trap you in the intersection,” said Kromko, who believes the issue comes down to money. “The company knows once you’re in the intersection, if you miss the light by 100th of a second, you get a ticket. People say ‘If you don’t want a ticket, don’t run a red light,’ but this system makes it harder not to run a red light.”

For reasons like that, Kromko argues people prefer face-to-face enforcement with officers due to the fact they have discretion over whether or not to write a ticket. 

Kromko said he was pleased to see the county strike down speed cameras, and he can only hope to get the same result in the city. 

“This is like Robo-cop,” said Kromko. “Robo-cop is about contracting out law enforcement. That’s exactly what this is. You have a private company running part of the police force. I don’t like profit-motive when it comes to things like this.”

For more information on Traffic Justice, visit tucsontrafficjustice.com.

6 images

Randy Metcalf/The Explorer

The Pima County Board of Supervisors has turned off the 11 speed cameras scattered around Tucson. Currently there is a petition in the City of Tucson to ban red-light cameras.

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