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This article is published in the June 4 edition of the Santan Sun News.

June 10, 2016

Photo Enforcement Program modifies driver behavior, helps make Chandler streets safer

Technology augments limited Police traffic enforcement resources

Photo Enforcmeent equipment at a Chandler intersection.After a brief hiatus, Chandler’s Photo Enforcement Program is operational once again, and many City intersections will be safer because of these red-light and speed-on-green cameras.

Police cannot be at every intersection. This is why for more than 15 years, the City of Chandler has used this 24/7 technology to augment the presence and traffic enforcement capabilities of the Chandler Police Department (CPD) at 12 of the community’s intersections. The placement of the photo red-light and speed-on-green cameras recently has changed based on traffic volume and the number and severity of accidents at certain intersections.

From day one, the goal of the program has been to reduce the number of collisions and their severity by influencing driver behavior. National studies and statistics collected in Chandler show that there is a significant reduction in accidents at intersections that are photo enforced.

“The presence of these cameras causes many people to change their behavior when driving through Chandler, and they usually slow down as they approach an intersection with cameras,” said Chandler Police Commander David LeVoy. He oversees the CPD’s Photo Enforcement Program and says that despite what some people may believe, Chandler’s program is not intended to collect money for the City’s coffers.

“The City Council has always directed that this program be as revenue neutral as possible, and if any excess funds are generated, those monies are to be solely used on equipment and programs designed to improve traffic safety,” Commander LeVoy said.

That is why drivers will see speed reader boards as they approach an intersection that is monitored by cameras, giving them ample time to slow down, if necessary, before entering the intersection. There also are photo enforcement warning signs placed about a half mile in advance of the intersections.

“We want to be as transparent as possible about this program. Our intent is not to trick or fool people into getting tickets,” Commander LeVoy said. “We publicize the 12 intersections and 17 approaches that are monitored. We notify drivers when they are nearing one of these intersections and the speed they are traveling. We disclose the program processes and costs, and we put any revenues back into our traffic safety efforts.”

Speed Reader boards show drivers their speed prior to a photo enforcement intersection.The City’s current contract is with American Traffic Solutions (ATS), Inc. The company pays for the equipment, the installation and ongoing maintenance. The City pays ATS $20 for every “actionable violation” that occurs, which means the system must capture an identifiable photo of the driver and a readable image of the vehicle license plate, which must match the vehicle registration information. Not every photo submitted by ATS is deemed to be an actionable violation by the Chandler Police Department.

The CPD has a full-time sworn police officer serving as the Photo Enforcement Coordinator and managing the program. This officer confirms the vehicle registration and driver information, and then, compares the image of the driver on file with the MVD to the image of the driver in the intersection photo. Sometimes, additional investigating is necessary to correctly identify the driver, such as when the person driving doesn’t own the vehicle, but may be related to the owner.

When citations are issued, they are mailed along with an explanation of the violation and images taken at the intersection. For red-light violations, the image shows where the vehicle was in relation to the curb line, which is marked with a red line on the pavement, when the traffic light changed to red. Speed-on-green violations occur when drivers are 11 miles per hour or more above the posted limit.

When the most recent photo enforcement contract was approved, Vice Mayor Jack Sellers expressed support for using this technology to enhance the law enforcement capabilities of the Police Department. He also addressed claims by a few critics who said the City was trying to boost revenues and the program wasn’t effective.
“It’s a fact that when drivers know that you have photo red light in your community, it changes their behavior,” the Vice Mayor said. “Plus, what little revenue that does come in goes right back into public safety and traffic calming enhancements.”

“We’ve heard too many tragic stories about red light runners over the years,” Vice Mayor Sellers added. “Our citizens are most vulnerable at intersections, where the most serious collisions are caused by red-light runners. The bottom line is that this is about the City Council doing what we can to reduce collisions and fatalities, and it’s about residents being responsible and paying attention to how they drive on our streets. Together, we can help keep all of Chandler’s citizens safe.”
Just the facts:
  • During the next two weeks, red-light and speed-on- green violators will receive warnings in the mail, and citations will be issued starting June 20.
  • It is illegal to take steps to deter law enforcement from reading your license plate.
  • Do not duck, obscure your face or take evasive maneuvers when going through photo enforcement intersections. You are putting yourself and others at risk, and any attempts to hide your identity are most likely in vain.
  • For several years after Chandler’s Photo Enforcement Program began, it operated at a loss (costs fluctuated due to personnel and other expenses), and from 2006-2015, it generated an average of approximately $21,000 per year.
  • While red-light and speed-on-green enforcement cameras have improved traffic safety in Chandler, the biggest impact has been attributed to the redesign of several major intersections. Those projects widened high volume intersections and added right and left turn lanes, resulting in a significant reduction in the number of accidents. Another intersection redesign projects will begin later this year at Alma School Road and Chandler Boulevard.
  • In 2014, 709 people (in the U.S.) were killed, and an estimated 126,000 were injured in crashes that involved red-light running. Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 
Chandler Speed and Red Light Photo Enforcement Intersections and Monitored Approaches:
  • Westbound Chandler Boulevard at Dobson Road
  • Southbound Dobson Road at Ray Road and Westbound Ray Road at Dobson
  • Westbound Warner Road at Alma School Road and Southbound Alma School Road at Warner Road
  • Eastbound Ray Road at Alma School Road
  • Southbound Alma School Road at Queen Creek Road and Westbound Queen Creek Road at Alma School Road
  • Southbound McClintock Drive at Ray Road and Eastbound Ray Road at McClintock Drive
  • Southbound Arizona Avenue at Warner Road
  • Southbound Arizona Avenue at Ray Road
  • Southbound Arizona Avenue at Ocotillo Road
  • Eastbound and Westbound Riggs Road at Cooper Road
  • Westbound Chandler Boulevard at Kyrene Road
  • Eastbound Ray Road at Rural Road