Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

July 23, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Photo Radar


  • Learn about the Arizona Department of Public Safety's plans to roll out its statewide photo radar system as part of the state budget approved by lawmakers and signed by the governor last month.
Guests:
  • Tom Woodward - D.P.S. Commander


View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Hello and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The 2009 state budget signed by the governor at the end of June included a provision establishing a statewide photo radar system. The department of public safety is responsible for its implementation. Here to tell us how that's going is D.P.S. Commander Tom Woodward. Good to have you on the program. Thanks for joining us.

Tom Woodward:
Good afternoon.

Ted Simons:
The contract is for 100 cameras, is that correct?

Tom Woodward:
It's for 170. That doesn't mean we'll have 170. The current rollout plan cause for 50 by the end of September and others by January. The reason for 170 is as we implemented the program and found out which performed we wanted to have enough capacity to expand.

Ted Simons:
We heard the number 200 thrown a round. Is that inaccurate or is that possible?

Tom Woodward:
Yes and no. When you look at red light enforcement that is sometimes interpreted as two systems when you have a system for each approach.if you look a the 30 red light photo enforcement systems included in our contract, 30 are red light enforcement. If you interpret that for a system for each, that equates to 200.

Ted Simons:
What kind of cameras? Mobile? Fixed? Both?

Tom Woodward:
Actually both. Our plans include stationary cameras, speed enforcement like on loop 101 on the pilot project and mobile speed enforcement and provisions for stationary red light enforcement and something innovative that is mobile system.

Ted Simons:
Where will the cameras be?

Tom Woodward:
Major junction areas. If you look at route 101 it's good on reducing accidents but on open freeways. We feel if you place it on the major junction areas you have potential to lessen collisions. You have traffic changing lanes and sudden backups and a lot going on in the junction areas if you slow down the traffic you do a couple of things that have significance. One you reduce the stopping distance so if you have a sudden slow down people stop safely. And the flow of traffic to allow people to merge and do things in the flowing junction areas.

Ted Simons:
Stack, mini stack?

Tom Woodward:
Correct. Stack, mini stack, the 60-i10 transition. That's the plan for the cameras. West of phoenix eastbound and we've had significant collisions in that area. We think we can utilize stationary photo enforcement cameras to improve the collision picture. The mobile units will be spread throughout the state of the initial 100 rollout is comprised of 60 in the phoenix area and addition 40 of mobile units throughout the state.

Ted Simons:
How visible will the cameras be and what kind of signage will be there to warn drivers they are getting close?

Tom Woodward:
First of all, there's a statute that requires signs in place. There's a statutory requirement for two signs prior to the photo enforcement system. We are in compliance and will continue to be in compliance. How visible the cameras themselves will be. You can see cameras like loop 101 that is the pole mounted camera and utilize existing structures like overhead signs and things like that. In terms of mobile cameras it's the same kind of mobile units. We're using ford escapes and potential to use wireless system which utilizes tripods where you park the vehicle up to 100 feet away. That allows us high-speed highway corridors we can safely enforce on locations without parking that vehicle on the shoulder.

Ted Simons:
A lot of criticism of this program. Some critics are saying it's less about safety than about generating revenue from. The law enforcement's side, can you understand why people are so upset about this?

Tom Woodward:
I understand it is a controversial issue. I will tell you that those of us at D.P.S. involved in telling people that their loved one was killed in the horrific collision. We see this as an opportunity improve safety on the highways.

Ted Simons:
Would you like to see points on licenses and insurance rates adjusted? Some say if you have the money, you can keep on speeding.

Tom Woodward:
That's a decision at the legislative process. We don't make the statute but enforce them. We are putting together the best program we can. We are excited to have the funding string to move forward.

Ted Simons:
As far as D.P.S. officers, that will do it, is that a correct assumption?

Tom Woodward:
Yes, speed enforcement is a major component of highway safety program. It's important to remember they do not replace officers. They allow officers to focus on other types of violations; that is removing impaired and reckless drivers from our highways. It's a force multiplier if you will.

Ted Simons:
You mentioned earlier the loop 101 the cameras on this particular stretch of highway. What happened to that? Where did that go?

Tom Woodward:
As the construction of the H.O.V. Lanes in the area continued and expanded. What happened is the lanes were shifted. The reason we referred to photo enforcement verse photo radar is because it's triggered by a number of things. It's triggered by sensors in the pavement. When they shifted the lanes for construction, those sensors were not properly placed. If you re-cut the sensors, you weaken the pavement. The decision was rather than recutting the sensors and changing the cameras and weakening the pavement, it's much better to use mobile enforcement in the area during the construction.

Ted Simons:
Last question all things considered in terms of safety and enforcement would you rather see more officers as opposed to more cameras?

Tom Woodward:
Of course we would like to see more officers. But that becomes a budget issue. We still see photo enforcement as a very effective program. It would take a very large number of officers to control speeds in the major junction areas as well as photo enforcement can. This is just a tool that we used for years. Initially they used stop watches and then radar came on the scene and then it became more sophisticated and reliable and fast car and aircraft. This as vast tool in technology that helps us do our job.

Ted Simons:
Thank you for joining us.

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