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Loop 101 Photo Radar

by Nick Coons
Jan 22, 2006

Today is the first day of the new cameras on the Loop 101 in Scottsdale between 90th St. and Scottsdale Rd. exits, though the cameras themselves have been snapping pictures in "test" mode for a couple of days. Last night, I was on my way home driving through this area and noticed the "Photo Enforced - Testing In Progress" signs, so I thought I'd help them test.

I've never been shot by photo radar before, and seeing as how there'd be no consequences, I decided I'd give it a try. I sped up past 75MPH (as the speed limit is 65MPH, the cameras shoot vehicles at 76MPH and up) to have my picture taken and was immediately blinded by the flash. Within the first half a second, I didn't know if it was a flash or if something on my car had blown up. My first reaction was to hit the brakes, but only for a second.

As I regained my vision, I was happy to note that there was no one directly in front of me, and I was somehow still safely in my lane (this camera is right before a turn). It was a rather shocking experience.

Now, some interesting facts, as reported by the East Valley Tribune. Apparently there is some concern about these cameras on the freeway, one of them being how the flashing of the cameras (especially at night) will affect drivers at high speeds. Paul Porell, Scottsdale's traffic engineering director states, "No, we have not received any calls about having anybody slamming on their brakes because of the flash." I know it happened to me and I didn't call. I wonder how many dozens or perhaps hundreds of other people have slammed on their brakes as a gut reaction and no one reported it.

I don't think it's unreasonable for the city to use certain means to enforce laws. But there are a few problems with these cameras:

- The Loop 101 is a state freeway, and while jurisdiction exists, the city has no business pursuing speeders on this road.

-Speeding should not be a crime.

Okay, let me qualify that last statement, the details of which belong in another article, though I'll go over it briefly here. Speeding does not cause harm; smashing your car into another car or object does -- It's the latter that should be illegal. Some will argue that speeding increases the chances of a collision, and it most likely causes more damage during a collision. I would respond by saying that those that cause collisions should be punished accordingly, whether they were speeding or not. However, the act of speeding itself is not harmful to anyone. Photo radar cameras enforce frivilous laws, and this is the reason they should not exist.

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