Following the passage of legislation by the Arizona State Legislature that banned automated photo enforcement on state highways, the City of El Mirage is experiencing a surge in speeding incidents along Grand Avenue (U.S. 60) within the City limits.
El Mirage opted to begin a traffic safety camera program in 2009 due to a history of speed-related violations and crashes involving drivers passing through the City. Two camera systems monitoring eastbound and westbound speeding incidents along Grand Avenue were turned off March 16, 2016 following restrictions on photo enforcement imposed by the State of Arizona.
While the enforcement systems have not captured or stored any photographic data since then, the sensors have continued to monitor the speed and number of vehicles traveling along that section of the roadway. Officials are using this information to assess program effectiveness and potential roadway dangers.
In May 2016, just over a full month after the cameras went dark, 7,361 westbound speeding incidents were recorded, a 179 - percent increase from May 2015. Eastbound, 13,675 speeding incidents were recorded – a 319-percent increase from the same time last year. Speeding is defined in this instance as cars travelling 11 miles per hour over the state-mandated speed limit of 45 mph.
“The data is clear. Without the camera deterrent, we are seeing more and more unsafe driving along Grand. This is an extremely serious matter, as lives are at stake,” said El Mirage Police Chief Terry McDonald.
The City of El Mirage has also experienced more collisions since the cameras were turned off. From March 16, 2016 to June 15, 2016, there were six collisions (three injury and three non-injury), versus two non-injury collisions for the same time period last year.
Chief McDonald noted such crashes cause traffic delays, require police, fire and EMS resources, cause property damage, and worst of all, can lead to injuries and untimely deaths. “Many people think speeding is a victimless crime. That is, until they become the victim, or someone they love does.”
According to the most recent data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding contributed to 30 percent of all fatal crashes in 2012, and the annual economic cost of all speeding-related crashes in the United States exceeded $40 billion.
El Mirage officials are currently evaluating methods and tools available to better patrol speeding along the U.S. 60. Chief McDonald stated automated photo enforcement was an ideal solution in this area because an officer cannot safely pull over drivers along a divided highway separated by a median, and without a shoulder.
To learn more about traffic safety initiatives in El Mirage, visit El Mirage Police Department at www.cityofelmirage.org/police.