PHOENIX - Photo enforcement is here to stay, at least for the time being.
On a 4-2 vote Thursday, the House Transportation Committee killed legislation that would have forbidden the use of unmanned cameras and motion sensors activated by vehicles that run red lights or are speeding to generate traffic tickets.
But violators won't be awakened in the middle of the night by someone trying to serve them with a citation.
Allowing continued use of photo enforcement came despite claims by critics the cameras actually can cause increases in accidents. Rep. Rick Gray, R-Sun City, said he has seen statistics that show crashes at intersections increased when red-light cameras were installed in Peoria, perhaps because people slammed on the brakes at the last second.
But Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson, said statistics in her hometown show otherwise.
For example, she said the number of crashes at Grant and Tanque Verde roads went from 40 six years ago to just 12. She cited similar reductions in cameras at Nogales Highway and Valencia Road and 22nd Street and Wilmot Road.
And she dismissed arguments that some additional rear-end collisions result from those seeking to avoid a citation.
"We know speed kills," she said, saying the damage caused by someone trying to beat the red light is far greater than what happens when someone stops short and is hit from behind.
Steele confessed Thursday she recently had her picture taken at one of those Tucson red-light cameras.
"I may be getting something in the mail," she said. "But if I break the law I should be accountable."
Rep. Sonny Borelli, R-Lake Havasu City, also voted against killing the program.
"I'm not a fan of these things," he said. "But I do believe in local control."
Borelli continued that it should be up to each city council to decide whether the cameras are appropriate.
The same committee, however, did agree there should be limits on when those who do not respond to photo-radar ticket can be formally served. Violators are initially served with photo-generated citations by mail. If they fail to respond, they must be served in person.
Rep. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, said one young mother told of having a process server banging on the door at 10 p.m. He said that is inappropriate for a traffic violation.
His legislation, HB 2292, would limit service times from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. But when some questioned whether that is too narrow, Smith agreed to create a window of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. when the legislation goes to the full House.
"I may be getting something in the mail, but if I break the law I should be accountable."
Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson
Admitting she got caught by a red-light camera