We could learn a lot from (crash test) dummies when it comes to red light cameras

Dec 13, 2023, 2:00 PM | Updated: Dec 14, 2023, 12:00 pm

Many people in Arizona talk about honoring our “pioneering spirit” — and high on that list of people would be conservative politicians.

But one thing that Arizona pioneered (after horses stopped being our primary mode of transportation) is something conservative legislators want to get rid of.

Whether you call it photo radar or photo enforcement, calls to kill off the cameras that detect speed and red light running — have been raised since we first pioneered ’em… waaaay back in 1987 when the town of Paradise Valley became the first place in America to use photo enforcement vans to monitor the speed of cars on their streets.

PV saw such a dramatic decrease in the number — and severity — of collisions, they expanded on photo enforcement to add cameras that detect red light runners. The rest, as they say, is history: Lots of spots in Arizona followed suit. 

But Arizona state Sen. Justine Wadsack wants them done away with.

Her town, Tucson, canned their cameras in 2015. She told our TV partners at ABC15 that when red light cameras were first put in place in the Old Pueblo, there was an increase in crashes, so she’s glad that Tucson saw through what she calls the “scam of red light cameras” — something she also sees as a “money grab” by the government. 

Wadsack is backing a bill that, if passed and signed by the governor, would outlaw these cameras statewide. 

But that’s not likely to happen because Gov. Hobbs vetoed a similar bill back in May that was introduced by state Sen. Wendy Rogers (R-Flagstaff) and sponsored by Wadsack and several other Republicans.

Even though Sen. Wadsack says nobody wants to “drive down the street and know that big government is able to look at them while driving,” and I’m not the biggest fan of the speed-detecting cameras, neither they, nor red-light cameras (which I kinda like), trample my constitutional rights: There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in public. 

The government’s not allowed in my car without my permission, reasonable suspicion, or a warrant, but taking pictures from outside my car — doesn’t run afoul of the U.S. or Arizona constitutions.

I don’t like being held to 40mph while traversing Paradise Valley (it makes it too easy to gaze upon the incredible homes there — fueling my envy), but that town has more millionaires than any other place in Arizona, so their cameras are there for safety — not money grabbing.

And how can anyone argue against red light cameras? We need to get people off the street who don’t give a damn about what color a traffic light is when they enter an intersection. We should post red light runners’ traffic cam picture on a website, automatically give them 8 points on their license, and maybe even sentence them to be crash test dummies — because, seriously, can you think of a more descriptive term for them? 

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Jim Sharpe

(Photo by Rebecca Noble/Getty Images)...

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We could learn a lot from (crash test) dummies when it comes to red light cameras