7/7/2008Arizona Buys Rear End Collision Protection for Cops
Police in Arizona will be protected from rear end collisions expected as speed camera program expands statewide.
In preparation for a massive expansion in speed camera use, an Arizona law signed late last month ensures that police officers will not be endangered by an expected increase in rear end collisions. The state's budget legislation established funding for what will soon become the nation's largest speed camera program. At least one hundred fixed and mobile photo radar devices will be deployed on freeways throughout the state to issue $165 million worth of citations (details). Immediately after creating a photo enforcement fund to divide these proceeds, the law also created a half-million dollar program designed to protect police cruisers from accidents associated with automated enforcement.
"The sum of $500,000 is appropriated... to state and local law enforcement and other governmental entities in this state for active or passive fire suppression kits for Ford Crown Victoria vehicles to aid in the prevention of fires resulting from rear end collisions," House Bill 2210 states.
A number of studies show that the use of photo enforcement can cause a significant increase in this type of accident. A preliminary examination of Scottsdale's freeway camera program found a 54 percent increase in rear end collisions accompanied the 110,962 automated tickets issued in 2006. These accidents happened as motorists nearing the cameras panicked and braked suddenly to avoid receiving a citation. They were then struck from behind by motorists who failed to react in time to the unexpected maneuver.
The same effect is documented in independent studies of red light camera use (view studies). Cities that implement photo enforcement often acknowledge the increase in these types of accidents, but officials dismiss their relevance, calling them "fender benders" not worthy of concern.
"While drivers who fear a ticket for red light running can cause a rear end collision by applying their brakes too rapidly, these types of collisions are far less dangerous than the typical right-angle collision caused by red light running," the Peoria, Arizona Police Department states on its website.
The National Highway Traffic Administration, on the other hand, found rear end accidents can be quite serious. It reviewed 267 fatal rear end collisions involving the Ford Crown Victoria, a favorite of law enforcement agencies, between 1992 and 2001. In eight percent of these accidents, the gas tank ruptured, causing a fire. As a result of the findings, Ford began offering a fire suppression system as a factory option on fleet versions of the Crown Victoria. Under the new law, any local or state police agency can apply to the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission for a $1000 grant to equip an existing Crown Victoria police car with a fire suppression kit to reduce the hazard from a rear end collision.
Excerpt from HB 2210, signed into law June 27, 2008
Sec. 35. Photo enforcement fund; appropriations
A. In fiscal year 2008‑2009, the department of public safety shall not spend more than $2,173,000 from the photo enforcement fund established by section 41‑1722, Arizona Revised Statutes, as added by this act, for department personnel and related expenditures.
B. The sum of $4,056,600 is appropriated in fiscal year 2008‑2009 from the photo enforcement fund to the administrative office of the courts for processing of state photo enforcement citations.
C. The sum of $20,361,300 is appropriated in fiscal year 2008‑2009 from the photo enforcement fund to the department of public safety for contract payments to private vendors for the operation of photo enforcement cameras and the processing of citations.
Sec. 36. Appropriation; fire suppression kits
A. Notwithstanding section 41-1723, paragraph 1, Arizona Revised Statutes, as added by this act, the sum of $500,000 is appropriated from the first monies received by the public safety equipment fund in fiscal year 2008-2009 to the Arizona criminal justice commission for distribution to state and local law enforcement and other governmental entities in this state for active or passive fire suppression kits for Ford Crown Victoria vehicles to aid in the prevention of fires resulting from rear end collisions. The commission shall distribute the monies on a first come, first served basis with a maximum of $1,000 per vehicle.
B. A person or entity that sells or offers to sell an active or passive fire suppression kit for use pursuant to this section shall comply with the testing requirements of section 44-1224, Arizona Revised Statutes.
C. The division of occupational safety and health within the industrial commission of Arizona shall monitor the installation of the fire suppression kits.
D. After distribution of the monies in subsection A of this section by the Arizona criminal justice commission, the department of public safety may use the remainder of the $3,000,000 appropriated pursuant to section 41-1723, paragraph 1, Arizona Revised Statutes, as added by this act, in fiscal year 2008-2009, for the purposes provided in that section.