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Statewide Freeway Speed Camera Programs Proceed
Arizona, Connecticut and Washington move forward on statewide freeway speed camera plans.

Speed camera governors
Plans to use speed cameras on a statewide basis are moving forward in Arizona, Connecticut and Washington. In each state, the programs are designed to generate hundreds of thousands of citations annually on regular freeways or in locations designated as highway work zones where fines are doubled. On Wednesday, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) announced that unmarked automated ticketing vans would begin prowling the state's highway work zones as early as April.

"Our goal is to get drivers to voluntarily slow down in the work zone, not issue a bunch of infractions," WSDOT spokesman Mike Dornfeld said in a statement.

Over the past five years, however, fatal collisions in Washington work zones have been on the decline with a 41 percent reduction taking place without any photo enforcement. WSDOT officials intend to generate statistics over the course of the new project that will help lobby the legislature to re-authorize the program in 2009.

Next week, the Connecticut General Assembly is expected to begin consideration of legislation authorizing Governor Jodi Rell's freeway speed camera plan announced earlier this month as a way to reduce the state's deficit by $165 million. The Committee on Public Safety and Security will consider Bill Number 41 which creates a pilot program on Interstate 95 near the town of Old Lyme. The statement of purpose for the legislation explains that the bill's sole goal is: "To implement the governor's budget recommendations."

In Arizona, the state House Transportation Committee yesterday voted 5-4 to adopt the recommendations of a photo enforcement vendor to boost the odds of photo ticketing's statewide political survival. House Bill 2603 would remove license demerit points from photo tickets. This would allow the state to issue the one million tickets needed to achieve the revenue targets announced by Governor Janet Napolitano (D) last month without facing the wrath of motorists whose licenses are suspended after a single journey across the state. With each ticket carrying three demerit points, it only takes four citations to earn a suspension. Scottsdale, for example, has set up three cameras within a stretch of just 6.5 miles. The measure is opposed by the insurance industry which generates millions in revenue by raising the insurance premiums of photo ticket recipients.

Two weeks ago, the same legislative committee approved both a ban on the freeway photo radar program and a resolution that would allow voters to decide the future of cameras in a referendum (read bill). Similar legislation failed last year.

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