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Oct 14, 2013 9:06 PM by Samantha Ptashkin

Lights out for Pima County speed enforcement cameras

TUCSON- For more than four years drivers have encountered eleven speed cameras across Pima County, but starting January 5, 2014, the cameras will stop flashing for good.

The county implemented the program in May 2009, signing a one year contract with American Traffic Solutions or ATS. The county renewed the contract four times, with the final renewal set to expire on January 5.

With that in mind, the county began to explore whether or not the cameras have been effective and transportation officials found the answer is no.

While the crash rate for the entire Pima County road system declined by 19% since the start of the photo enforcement program, the three year crash rate for the eleven photo enforcement locations declined by only 13%.

In addition, the number of citations issued over the years continues to decline. In 2009 there were 39,997 citations, in 2010 there were 37,360, in 2011 there were 28,473, in 2012 there were 25,434 and for the first nine months of 2013 there have been 15,498 (with an estimated total of 20,664 for the year).

Pima County Department of Transportation Director Priscilla S. Cornelio says over the years drivers have grown accustomed to the camera locations, so they know when to slow down.

Of course less citations means less money for the county.

The most common speed enforcement fine is $239.25, which is imposed for exceeding the speed limit by 11 to 15 miles per hour. More than 50% of each fine is paid to the State of Arizona. For a citation of $239.25, $112.52 will go back to Pima County, but about $65 of that is paid to ATS.

For fiscal year 2011/12, the county took in a net revenue of $535,370. In 2012/13 that dipped to $370,888 and in 2013/14 the total is at $85,172. According to Cornelio the current costs outweigh the revenue. "The county was required to keep up with all the citations, so we hired three people in the justice court to follow the citations issued," Cornelio says.

Now there are two questions. What will happen to the eleven speed cameras and will the county still have some sort of speed enforcement program?

Cornelio says Pima County DOT will be working with the Pima County Sheriff's Department over the next few months to figure it all out. Cornelio says it's likely the county will set up mobile speed cameras, which means they can be easily moved around to school zones and other problem areas.

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