Arizona Legislature Plans To Axe Speed Cameras

Riddle me this one. Arizona has a fiscal crisis of gigantic proportions. The state just finished installing automatic cameras to detect speeders on a number of the highways surrounding Phoenix, its largest city. The cameras have caught an enormous number of drivers exceeding the speed limit and generated substantial revenues. The cameras were previously tested in a controlled experiment on one particularly dangerous highway and dramatically reduced traffic accidents. The alternative to the cameras are more human resources patrolling the highways at significantly greater cost. The Republican legislature is advancing a bill to remove all of the speed cameras. And you wonder why politicians get a bad rap?

For a brief period after the cameras were installed, there was a hue and cry from an indeterminate number of people. Most of the hueing and crying took place on that most cerebral of all media-talk radio. There was even talk of getting together an initiative to outlaw the cameras but that seemed to go nowhere. Lots of talk radio talk, very little action and probably a lot fewer people concerned about the issue than the media would have had us believe.

But never underestimate the propensity of the political class to cater to whatever faction they perceive might exist, no matter how small. So the legislators plan to rip the cameras out of the ground despite the good that they might be achieving. Damn the revenues, full speed ahead on spending.

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