Dec 10

In the next six minutes $1k in revenue will be generated from photo radar cameras in AZ. And another $1k six minutes after that. Now picture the for-profit entity that just snapped your photo reaching into your wallet, extracting $165 and giving a chunk of it to the State of Arizona. I haven’t verified these facts independently but I’ve read five different articles this evening that indicate there are over 200 Redflex photo radar cameras in operation in Phoenix Metro now. Governor Napolitano signed a law into effect this summer enabling the state-wide use of photo radar enforcement and if you drive in Phoenix you know that the situation is out of hand. Here’s why:

A. A for-profit Australian company (Redflex – RDF) has been essentially granted the ability to levy a tax against Arizonans and split the profits with the State. Last time I heard you needed to be a government entity to have the right tax a population.

B. You paid for the installation of these cameras with your tax dollars. Doesn’t it stand to reason that the penalties exacted on you from these “safety” devices would flow back into your municipality? They don’t (at least not the majority) – they’re flowing to a publicly-traded Australian corporation.

C. The most insidious thing about this whole sham is that the people who are collecting the tax get to do so under the guise of enforcing a safety measure. I call B.S. Camp out by a photo radar van or a fixed camera and watch as the flashes as they occur every few seconds. You’ll see an inevitable cascade of brake lights for half the cars on the road- 1/2 of the traffic instinctively slams the brakes for fear of getting flashed and the other half continues at their existing speed. That is a recipe for one thing, and it’s not safety.

What you can do right this minute

1. Sign up on Camera Fraud Meetup and get involved.
2. Print out the signature pages for the initiative and referendum and await instructions.
3. Tell 10 friends who are as pissed off about this situation as you are about 1 & 2.

I pulled a stunt with my license plate a year ago because I was so disgusted by photo radar. They should just make the highways toll roads and be straight up about the motivation here. It’s projected that they’ll cover $90MM of a $165MM budget shortfall this year via the new highway photo radar “scameras.” How many accidents will occur during that time from the erratic braking of surprised motorists- and who will pay for those accidents? At the very least if we must live with photo radar, the for-profit entity that implements the cameras should not share in the recurring revenue generated by the cameras. As it stands now Redflex is incentivized to maximize the frequency and amounts of fines and lobby for measures that bolster the use of photo radar.

Are you aware Redflex and its competitor American Traffic Solutions are both beginning to employ active OCR technology to track the movement of your vehicle about the city? Again, it’s done under the guise of “homeland security” and “amber alert response effectiveness” but a byproduct is that they conveniently get to interpolate your speed between cameras and issue tickets based on that calculation. Oh and your movements over time are logged and kept indefinitely (“limited only by available hard drive space and the types of cameras installed”). How long until they successfully pass a bill that gives them the right to have an ACH draw on your bank account to extract the speeding fine immediately?

This is out of hand folks. Photo radar is not something you need to quietly accept. Get angry. Get dangerous. Let’s stop this nonsense.

34 Responses to “Photo radar in Arizona is out of hand”

  1. I disagree with you. I believe Redflix is the company Lafayette uses as well, but if not, we have our own camera vans as well. (Just checked, it is indeed Redflex) At the end of the day, you have no right to privacy in the Constitution, nor should you expect one on a public road. These guys aren’t taxing you. They are fining you. You can’t avoid a tax usually (ignore sales tax, think income taxes), but you can easily ignore a fine by simple not speeding. As for the money going to a for-profit company, I’ve got no problem with that as long as there are safegaurds in place. I’d rather the cops spend more time on murderers and rapists then pulling over speeders anyway. ;)

  2. David says:

    Check this out, especially the part about automatic tailgating tickets with their existing cameras/sensors

  3. James says:

    You mistyped the link for “Get dangerous”

    or maybe

  4. sean says:

    @Ray – the 4th amendment in theory protects us against unreasonable search and seizure in our houses. I guess it’s a different story with surveillance on a public road but it still feels incredibly contrary to the spirit of what the founding fathers would have intended.

    @David – that’s disturbing though I imagine it’s the logical progression to integrate RFID and sidestep the inaccuracies and inefficiencies of using optical character recognition to track the vehicles. Now the next step is for them to force integration of the tracking with your OpenID acct and implement the National ID card, monitor your sentiments expressed online and follow the trouble makers…

    @James – thanks. dually-noted. I was giving the GP guys a little link love but good call on those links.

    BTW, I would put Redflex up there in the same class with Monsanto, Verichip, Taser and News Corp as being a truly evil, two-faced company. Any others I forgot to list that deserve mention?


  5. @Sean – I don’t know much about the American constitution, but I can only assume that your “founding fathers” didn’t write it with speed cameras in mind ;-)

  6. sean says:

    @Jason – clearly. And no doubt there will be crazier surveillance sh*t 10 years from now that we haven’t conceived of yet. Which is why I said the _spirit_ they intended.

  7. Benny says:

    Protip: Leave arizona while you still can.

    Arizona voters have been anesthetized, to the slow creation of a police state around them. Continuously voting for stronger tighter restrictions on every day activities. Letting an out of control Sheriff rack up millions of dollars is civil litigation, for Human rights violations.

    Time to wake up.. or get used to it .. or leave.


    PS. I left :-)

  8. j says:

    the ass-chapper here is that they push it under the guise of saftey, and the point-to-point stuff they are selling it on an amber alert platter.

    You are speeding, fine get a ticket.

    But what about the data being captured on the 1000’s of other motorists that pass by them and dont speed. The point to point stuff will log EVERY car that passes, whether you speed or not.. there is now a digital record of your movements.

    The only way to get rid of these cameras is public pressure on the legislature. They are yes men to money in the coffers from speeding fines, will become no men when booted from office.

  9. I have an idea! Why don’t we start a movement to boycott this “Redflex” company by all agreeing to obey traffic laws and drive safely? If NO ONE were breaking the law, the lights would NEVER flash, and the cameras would neither be a safety issue or your fake issue of a third party being contracted out to do work for the gov’t (ie: as most work beyond pure bureaucracy is done), since there would be no fines to take a percentage of.

    If y’all have such a problem with traffic laws as they are currently being enforced, contact your lawmakers and have them raise the speed limits, remove red lights from intersections, et cetera until there’s no reason to try to use cameras to enforce traffic laws. Personally, I generally like the traffic laws we have: I stop for red lights, I slow down in neighborhoods with more cross traffic and in those with schools and hospitals, and I drive manageable speeds on freeways without going so fast as to diminish my vehicle’s fuel efficiency. The biggest problem I see on the roads right now are the people who feel they don’t have to follow the rules; they put all our lives at risk.

  10. Bill says:

    That’s wonderful. First they put the speed cameras in causing everyone to drive like morons going 5-10 miles an hour under the speed limit in the fast lane and hitting their breaks at the cameras. Then they send you a ticket for tailgating the prick in front of you that isn’t bright enough to get out of the fast lane when someone is 2 inches from his bumper. Or even better, the idiot that hit his breaks and now you are 2 inches from his bumper because of his actions.

  11. sean says:

    @Teel – and you know what would happen from that boycott? Redflex would alter their business model to preserve their investment in camera infrastructure and shift it entirely to focus on the surveillance aspect. It’s happening anyways but what you’re proposing would simply accelerate it.

    I would wager to bet that you also support the “if you’ve got nothing to hide” argument for accepting privacy invasions by law enforcement. The crux of this argument here is not even about speed, it’s about the hypocrisy of using photo radar as a revenue-generating tool while claiming it’s for safety’s sake. It’s about the gradual build-out of a system that gets repurposed in the name of “maximizing shareholder value” and about citizens becoming frogs in a slow boil of anesthetization as @benny says. The biggest problem has nothing to do with the roads and has everything to do with the erosion of people’s sense of what is normal and acceptable. Kids that grow up surrounded by ubiquitous surveillance will know nothing else and believe this is just life. Read this and respond:


  12. Tom Bradford says:

    Question: Why are the cameras calibrated to flash at 11 miles per hour over the speed limit?

    Answer: If you’re speeding less than ten miles per hour over the speed limit, it’s only a civil traffic violation, and results in a less severe punishment than other driving offenses.

    Comment: If the purpose of these cameras is to ensure the public safety, then they should be calibrated to flash when you’re driving even one mile per hour over the speed limit. The fact is that eleven miles per hour has been chosen specifically to maximize profits for both the photo enforcement contractors and the local and state governments who benefit from the penalties.

    This practice is simply an extension of the prison industrial complex, an institution that has a firm hold on the governments of most southern states, including Arizona’s. Much like the military industrial complex, corporations are colluding with government for purposes of extracting more money out of your tax paying pockets under the guise of ‘protecting your safety.’

    It should come as no surprise that the vast majority of the tax dollars you pay to maintain our state’s prison system go toward incarcerating non-violent offenders for inordinate amounts of time. Over 70% of our prison population are there for minor offenses such as marijuana, alcohol, or methamphetamine, when they could just as easily be compelled to enter a rehab program for significantly less cost to the state (and by proxy, you). Instead, they stay in prison, continue to ‘miraculously’ get their drugs while there, and are doomed to repeat their offenses. But it’s not in the corporate interest to keep people out of prison, so continue to say goodbye to your money.

    Isn’t it a strange coincidence that as our economy has started to fail, the housing market has plummeted, and as Arizona finds itself with a major budgetary deficit, that we are now, *all of a sudden* incredibly interested in photo enforcement? During the housing boom, most of the cities barely bothered to enforce traffic violations because most of their revenue was derived from property taxes. Now that a huge number of houses are in foreclosure and the banks don’t bother to pay taxes on them, how are the cities to derive revenues?

    Oh, I know! Photo Enforcement!

    If you believe this is for your safety, then sir, you are utterly fooling yourself. There is no such thing as true safety. Policing is an ineffective placebo, much like our Department of Homeland Security and one’s faith in God. But you’re we’re all sheep, aren’t we? And so we do as we’re told.

    Every time we become complacent in our safety, our government announces some new ‘terror threat’ so we don’t forget that they’re here ‘to protect us’. I can’t wait for 2013, when we will apparently be attacked with biological weapons. Isn’t it strange that 2013 is the year after the first Obama term in office? Perhaps that year was chosen so that we’d be keen to vote Republican if Obama doesn’t completely crush terrorism in the next four years? After all, the Republicans have done a damn good job in the last eight years, haven’t they?

    What is wrong with you people?

  13. Dave says:

    You’re right – it’s become a joke. Especially with the big rain yesterday…everyone’s trying to beat photo radar while crashing into each other’s cars. Thanks a lot, Janet! (sarcasm included) – D.

  14. Dave says:

    Oh, and to follow up from my previous post, yes, I’ve done something about it…

  15. […] Despite the benefits, far more people have been burned by photo radar than should be. is a website dedicated entirely to fighting red light camera tickets in California. Many people think photo radar is merely a scam to get more money. After all, Boulder police seem to hand out more tickets on the last weekend of the month when trying to make quotas than any other time. […]

  16. Rex Platt says:

    Please visit and review the ballot initiative that has been started to limit photo radar in Arizona. Do your part to limit photo radar by circulating the petitions.

  17. Bakes says:

    You’re in the “Trap”. The speed trap. You are also a crazy filipino.

  18. Maxim Porges says:


    So I got a Garmin Nuvi 770 GPS for Xmas, and as I was registering it online I saw something that made me think of your speed camera plight: Garmin sells “Safety Camera” databases for their GPS products.

    From the Garmin web site: “Turn your compatible Garmin device into a safety camera alert system. Using this service, you can download safety camera data to your Garmin device containing the locations of hundreds of safety cameras across the country. After you load the data, your Garmin device alerts you when you are approaching a safety camera and can warn you if you are driving too fast.”

    Unfortunately, I can only see European maps offered at present. I’m not sure if they are holding off on the North American ones due to lack of demand, legislation, or work in progress. But, if there is no legal reason why Garmin can’t offer this in the US, Arizonians might want to petition Garmin for support if the speed camera situation is that bad. Certainly couldn’t hurt Garmin’s business; maybe they can combine the new map with a product discount for Arizona natives. :)

    Good luck and keep on fighting the good fight!

    – max

  19. sean says:

    thanks for the headsup on the Garmin app. I think that answer might suffer the same flaw as radar dectors: false security. The only time I’ve ever received a speeding ticket was when I used to have a radar dector. It gives you a false sense of confidence that when it _wasn’t_ beeping you’re guaranteed to be free from radar. The problem is it gave false negatives (as well as false positives) so 5% of the time it was just entirely inaccurate in both directions.

    Anyways, I’m sure Garmin could sell a bunch of units to Phx citizens based purely on their disgust with the photo radar system. Thanks for pointing it out.


  20. Mary says:

    i think its a load of bullpuckey.
    i have never in my life thought that a camera could take over an officers job. machines ruling arizona. its a thought and now reality.
    how are these to judge, you can talk your way with a cop, and be polite but not with a machine.
    and now often are the machines calibrated, making them unreliable.
    there is now way that thses cameras should remain in arizona. it is in fact the most ridiculous thing i have ever encounterd.

  21. frg says:

    I was driving down the I 17 going 60 mph, and the camera went off and flashed me. The speed limit was 65mph. So your telling me I’m getting cited for driving 5 miles under the speed limit. To all the people who agree with these cameras are idiots. I’m the victim here and I wasn’t even speeding. But what a lot of people don’t know is that according to Arizona law it is illegal to send a ticket via mail. So I’m not paying it or responding to it. The only way they catch you is if you sign it and send it back. By signing it you are waiving your 5th amenment rights, and testifying against yourself. Don’t do it. And don’t appear for court. Technically you have to be served by a process server within 90 days. If they fail to serve you they have to throw it out. I was going under the speed limit, a mile later going the same speed I passed another set of cameras. I threw my hood on and put my middle finger to the camera and guess what. No flash. So it goes to show how accurate they really are. Don’t get scammed. Ignore the ticket and make the state do the work. If they want my money they’re gonna have to find me. Losers

  22. Farnell says:

    Since you all are not a buch of law breakers I know you won’t mind if we install cameras in every room in your house. If you are not breaking any laws of any kind you certainly won’t mind.
    Not one word of opposition please. It is for your safty any way. We could use the tapes if a crime happened. You know someone breaks in and harms you. We’ll have it on video. You just have to love that kind of safty and efficiency.
    This is sticly voluntary at first. We only want to put the cameras were they are welcome.
    If violent crime numbers drop, we could vote to expand the program.
    Don’t break any laws and there won’t be any problems.

    One last question, are you able to recite the 30 million laws in this country. Ignorance is no excuse!

  23. tyrsmkr says:

    The cameras test flash at random times as they run systems checks. Dont get bent out of shape if it flashes on you..since the average motorist isnt paying attention to what is actually going on around them, it could have flashed the guy that was next to you, that you didnt know was there, because he was going over the 11 MPH..Dont get bent until you get a citation..Then fight it just like you would if a live officer gave it to you….

  24. tyrsmkr says:

    By the way, the thing you get in the mail is a notice of violation. So, since its not a formal complaint, the law doesnt apply. If you ignore it, then it becomes a formal complaint and then you are served instead of mailed..Heck, if I am speeding, it would sure be nice to just have the opportunity to pay for the notice instead of wasting 8 hours listening to people complain how they werent speeding and how the officer trapped them…Life is too short

  25. Mark says:

    Sad to say that I have RedFlex HQ here in my own state. It’s time we come together and start forming petitions against this so we can present the population’s opinion at a federal level to our representatives in a somewhat diplomatic manner in order to be taken seriously.




  26. Vihad says:

    Write the ticket issuer and tell them you were not driving the vehicle in question.

    I will tell you the name & address of the person who WAS driving your car. ME. I live outside of the U.S. The ticket issuer will send me threatening letters as long as their letters are not returned, but they will be unable to do more.

    I’ve done this successfully.

    Send me an email if you need my help.

    ad_valorem -at- yahoo -dot- com

  27. Elaine says:

    I got nailed for red light running, in a double left land turning left on the yellow arrow. The light had turned red for .62 seconds (half a second) when I got flashed, speed 21 in a 40. The guy turning left in front of me had hit the brakes twice during his approach to the turn, and I almost hit him – now I know why, he probably got a ticket there!

    There is nothing unsafe about what I was doing, and there is no way to respond to the red in less than a second. They want us to stop on the yellow, not proceed with caution. The officer I spoke with acknowledged that rear end collisions have gone up but lawmakers are fine with that. He also said that yellow lights last from 3 to 5 seconds depending on what intersection and time of day, so there is no way to know how long you have to proceed through a yellow light, and there is no grace period before the photo radar is engaged.

    Furthermore, if you fight this ticket and lose, you must pay the fine AND go to punitive driving school, pay court costs as well as get points on driving record. As I understand it the judge hears these all day long and usually won’t even listen to a rational argument so don’t bother.

    Our right are slowly being withdrawn and this just one more thing our elected officials are doing to harness the taxpayer – and this ticket is just an extra tax.

    I will be visiting with the mayor of Peoria AZ (Bob Barrett) and my counsilwoman Joan Evans to discuss this situation but other than that if anyone knows of a class action lawsuit I would love to participate, or another blog or some sort of protest or DO SOMETHING TO GET THIS CHANGED to be more fair and safe. Sorry, I don’t agree with the officer, it is NOT preferable that rear end collisions go up so that people stop ‘running red’.

    One more thing: if they really want to make intersections more safe they could instill a one second delay during the change of the lights. but that won’t increase revenue and pay for the cameras, it will just solve the problem….

  28. mouser says:

    no way- could THIS truly work??

  29. Judy Clark-Beall says:

    They must be really on a power trip. I went today as a witness, the person who got the ticket was not the person in the picture. Yet they looked so much alike the judge found him guilty even though I stated the correction and the real persons first name (I did not know his last name) So I guess the state is on a power trip and is very money hungry, so as to make someone pay for someone elses ticket. What has happened to our Judicial system? I did have respect for it…but not now that I have seen it in action.

  30. Judy Clark-Beall says:

    I just spoke with the person who was found falsely guilty and he said that after researching the appeal process, he has desided to cut his losses and just pay that other guys ticket. I argued that it would be points against his insurance, but he says you can’t fight them once their pride is up. This really sucks!!!

  31. Judy Clark-Beall says:

    I agree Teel@Teel McClanahan III
    I am a grand mother and wish the kids could stop dying in traffic collisions.
    But I also wish they would govern their ticket issuence better. They are sending tickets to the wrong people, and if they even remotely look like the person in the pic, they are found guilty of something they did not even do.
    I do believe it just for revenue, the state is in a bind and they don’t care who they get to pay the bill…It is sad, and I have totally lost my respect for our judicial system…

  32. SSmith says:

    @Tom Bradford
    I agree, we are all sheep being led to slaughter.

  33. Arizona Law says:

    Boycott Arizona Tes!

  34. […] Photo radar in Arizona is out of hand | Scrollin' On Dubs Dec 10, 2008 … I call B.S. Camp out by a photo radar van or a fixed camera and watch as …. Read this and respond: … […]

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