If you live in Tucson, you know our city has a problem with drivers who speed and who run red lights.
The question is what to do about them.
The city’s answer has been to hire a private company to operate red-light cameras at eight intersections and to deploy mobile radar vans. On Nov. 3, voters will decide whether they agree. Proposition 201 would ban the cameras.
The way the system is set up is flawed and must be improved. But we believe the cameras deter reckless driving and should remain. We urge a “no” vote on the ban.
The proposed ban is on the ballot because of a petition drive by voters long-frustrated with the program.
Those opponents correctly point out that innocent drivers are snared because of how state law defines where an “intersection” begins. This is especially a problem at large intersections. One solution would be to paint these intersections so drivers clearly understand what’s legal and not. Another would be to lengthen the yellow-light cycle to give drivers more time to clear the intersection.
And then there is the matter of fines. Run a red light in the city of Tucson and the fine is $335. Do the same thing in Phoenix and it’s $245 and in Pima County $283. Tucson is also the highest in each of three categories of speed violations. The City Council should review the rates and justify the amounts.
Police chief Roberto Villaseñor recently said that there were 57 collisions last fiscal year at the eight intersections with cameras. There were 188 in 2006 — the year before the cameras were installed.
Crashes are down in general, so we don’t argue that the difference is entirely attributable to the cameras.
But we know this with certainty: When we see a camera or a radar van, we take a look around and at our speedometer. We think about safety. That’s why the cameras have value and why we urge you to vote “no” on Proposition 201.