I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

Phoenix’s questionable photo-radar speeding tickets

Phoenix has set up photo-radar speed cameras all over their highways. This has not gone over well with Phoenix residents, but the politicians love them: they’re a giant money-maker for the state.

Here’s how it works. If you’re going 10 or more miles per hour over the speed limit when you pass a camera, you see two bright flashes as it takes two photos: one of you in the driver’s seat and one of your license plate. Then they mail you a ticket for about $200 that most people can’t reasonably contest. It costs the authorities almost nothing to issue a ticket, and they get a lot of money in exchange.

Like ticket quotas, it’s a wide-open invitation for corruption. Rather than promoting healthy enforcement of traffic laws, it encourages local governments to trick people into getting more citations.

As a visitor spending a weekend in Phoenix with a rental car, I hardly ever knew the speed limit on the highways. It seems to fluctuate frequently between 55 and 65 MPH. Since the cameras trigger at 10-over, which itself is an unreasonably low threshold for an automatic ticket, this is the only city I’ve ever heard of that frequently issues tickets for driving 65 MPH in a 55 MPH zone.

And I’ve never driven anywhere that had fewer speed-limit signs posted on the highways. I noticed that on my first drive before I even knew about the cameras. It’s almost entrapment.

Whether it’s intentional or not, what’s their encouragement to add more speed-limit signs? They probably make a lot of money from people driving 65-68 MPH who think they’re being perfectly safe and legal but are unknowingly in a limit-55 zone.

The incentives here are all wrong. I can see why the residents have major problems with this.