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Arizona bill to remove red light cameras draws ire from safety advocates

(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

PHOENIX — As the Arizona House approved legislation to ban camera enforcement at red lights, some are urging the Senate to shoot down the bill on the basis of public safety.

The Traffic Safety Coalition released a statement Friday stating that public health officials and traffic safety advocates are concerned that House Bill 2525 would make Arizona roads more dangerous.

“We know firsthand red light running is often a deadly epidemic, and indisputable data demonstrates Arizona’s traffic safety camera program reduces red light running, crashes and saves lives,” said Barbara Hoffman, executive director of Red Means Stop Traffic Safety Alliance.

This isn’t the Arizona state Legislature’s first attempt to ban traffic enforcement cameras; a similar bill was rejected last year. Lawmakers in support of the legislation told the Associated Press that constituents have complained of the cameras’ questionable Constitutional bearing.

But Hoffman, in addition to being a leader in the aforementioned not-for-profit safety advocacy group, was touched by the red light issue when her 14-year-old son was killed by a red light runner in Mesa in 2004.

“Removing this potentially lifesaving technology is not only irresponsible, it’s a public health risk,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman and more than 20 other family members of red light running victims wrote to state legislators this week regarding HB 2525.

“No one should ever have to go through what we have experienced,” they wrote. “We encourage the use of any tool or technology that will keep Arizona families safe and prevent another senseless tragedy.”

The bill itself states that it’s the Legislature’s intent is as follows:

1. Keep the enforcement of the laws in this state in the hands of trained law enforcement officers who are authorized by the people of this state to enforce the laws.

2. Protect the citizens of this state from the abuses that accompany the outsourcing of law enforcement to private, for-profit entities.

3. Ensure that the purpose of law enforcement remains to serve and protect and not to generate revenue for governments.

Will Humble, an incoming executive director for the Arizona Public Health Association, said data — not just sentiment — supports the use of traffic enforcement cameras.

“The data is clear that photo enforcement saves lives and prevents injuries,” Humble said. “That’s why photo enforcement should remain an option for local policy makers.”

The TSC’s release state that Mesa, Phoenix and Paradise Valley saw reductions in crashes by 55, 48 and 45 percent, respectively, with the use of cameras at intersections.

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