Exclusive — Two serious accidents. Two remote areas. One common link: a photo radar van was there.
As DPS prepares to hail photo enforcement as the savior of Arizona’s highways once again, they may be covering up violent and deadly accidents actually caused by the cameras.
Earlier this month in Southern Arizona, a passenger vehicle collided with a school bus head-on, killing 3. While the accident occurred directly in front of a DPS-branded Redflex photo van, DPS wasted no time doing preventative damage control: “DPS says the van played no role in the accident…” reported KVOA, despite the early and incomplete nature of the investigation.
In July of this year, a serious collision occurred in a remote area near Cordes Lakes, AZ. Multiple witnesses provided written statements to DPS directly linking a nearby photo van as a component of the accident, with one witness going as far as listing a “white photo radar truck” as a vehicle involved in the accident. A report supplement filed by a DPS officer included the following narrative:
“All the witnesses reported seeing the gray… car loose [sic] control of the vehicle as it passed the photo radar van…”
Unlike real tickets written by real police officers, the Arizona Department of Public Safety actually gets a “cut” from each paid photo enforcement ticket. Now, during a time of budget nightmares and cutbacks, it appears DPS will do anything to protect that precious revenue stream.
Even if it means putting profit above public safety.
DPS is planning on releasing a photo enforcement “year end review”. The “results” are predictable, the numbers are cherry-picked, and the lies are all the same.
DPS claims reductions in accidents and fatalities in the 20% range within the Phoenix metro area can be directly linked to photo radar. They purposefully ignore the fact that traffic fatalities are reaching an all-time low nationwide, according to the NHTSA:
The U.S. DOT today announced that the number of overall traffic fatalities reported in 2008 hit their lowest level since 1961… fatalities in the first three months of 2009 continue to decrease. The fatality rate, which accounts for variables like fewer miles traveled, also reached the lowest level ever recorded.
In Clark County, NV, an area compatible to the density and population of Phoenix, has seen a 19.4% decrease in fatalities during the same period. Nevada outlaws the utilization of automated ticketing schemes statewide.
DPS has tried to play these games before, resulting in even pro-photo radar organizations questioning the agency’s ways:
“…even the prominent motorist advocacy group AAA Arizona, however, have publicly questioned the methodology used to arrive at those conclusions. Linda Gorman, AAA Arizona’s director of public affairs, says there were many factors that could have resulted in a drop in collisions.
For instance, there were six-percent fewer drivers on the road in Maricopa County, equating to 10,000 fewer drivers per day on some stretches of highway, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. DPS also has made an effort to put more patrol officers on highways, all of which led experts to predict fatalities would drop by nearly 30 percent.
Gorman added that AAA supports photo radar… “Right now we’re experiencing an unprecedented proliferation of photo enforcement on our freeways, and it seems that it’s turned into one that’s more focused on the revenue.”
(DPS’) Graves admits the statistics released by DPS aren’t scientific or definitive…
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu has publicly stated that photo radar money is “corrupting law enforcement.” A former DPS officer even went as far as to say he’s ashamed of his former agency for the blatant cash grab.
If DPS is proven to be cooking the books for favorable statistics or hiding photo radar-related accidents, the department stands to lose any remaining credibility it may still have.
The result? The actual officers and public safety will suffer if the people no longer trust the State’s highest-level law enforcement agency.