Saturday, January 28, 2006

Nation's First Freeway Photo Radar

Last week, the City of Scottsdale, Arizona installed the first photo-radar system used on a freeway. We already have them at major intersections to catch both speeders and red light runners.

The flow of traffic on Loop 101 in the north valley, including the Scottsdale stretch, was upwards of 80 MPH. this is the flow, not the people zooming past.

They turned the system on this past monday and had something like 7000 photos taken on the first day, with numbers significantly decreased over the following days. There are only warnings mailed right now, but tickets will be mailed starting Feb 22.

The radar will only take a photo when your speed is 11 MPH over the posted limit of 65 MPH. This is standard in the valley of the sun for photo radar and for officers.

My fears: Flashes at night will distract drivers and cause accidents when travelling at freeway speeds. That hasn't happened yet.

What I've noticed over the past week is that the speed of freeway traffic is about 70 to 75 MPH on Loop 101 in Phoenix to the west and on the Indian Reservation to the south (the geography is actually east, but the freeway jogs east onto the reservation about five miles after it turns south on the east side).

Going away from Scottsdale, the flow of traffic gradually increases until it's back in the mid seventies about three miles past the city limit. Going toward Scottsdale, the traffic gradually slow at about the same distance. What surprises me is that in Scottsdale proper, the speed slows down to under 60 MPH near the first trap, despite the fact that it won't trigger until 76 MPH. There are three or four in each direction. Based on a sample size of one (I have driven past more than one trap only today) the speed increases to about 65 after the first trap.

So far, it seems to be spectacularly successful and may be the wave of the future across the country. You may wonder why the highway patrol doesn't just put more speed cops on the highway, and that has been the argument against the photo radar traps. I don't know the answer to that. Maybe they were too busy responding to accidents. forwarned...may be coming to a town near you.

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