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Arizona To Slash Red Light Camera Tickets With Definition Change
Arizona House votes to adopt definition of intersection used by rest of country to cut down on red light camera tickets.

J. Christopher Ackerley
A great deal of money rests on a seemingly minor word change in the legal definition of an Arizona intersection. Earlier this month the state House voted 57 to 3 to conform its definition to the language used everywhere else in the continental United States. The move would slash the number of red light camera citations issued in the state by effectively giving motorists more time to clear an intersection before seeing a flash in their rear-view mirror.

"Basically we are one of the very, very few states who does not comply with the federal Manual of [Uniform] Traffic Control Devices," bill sponsor J. Christopher Ackerley (R-Sahuarita) explained to the House Transportation Committee last month. "We don't define our intersections the way the rest of the country does, and I think it makes sense for us to define intersections where people are expecting to stop."

In 48 states, an intersection begins at a stop bar or crosswalk line. A driver may legally cross these lines while the light is green or yellow and can continue through to the other side of the intersection even if the light turns red. Arizona's current law sets the red light camera trigger back between 24 and 38 feet (to the elongation of the curb line), so that drivers have less time to legally clear the intersection. The existing definition has the same effect as shortening the yellow light duration by 0.2 to 0.6 seconds, depending on the speed of traffic and size of the intersection.

The Federal Highway Administration has noted that Arizona's existing definition of an intersection is "not consistent" with binding federal regulations, and in 2009 the agency slammed the city of Tucson for painting confusing and illegal intersection marking lines in an effort to generate red light camera violations. While the bill has come up in the legislature in past sessions, the definition change has never been enacted. Governor Jan Brewer (R) vetoed the bill in 2012.

"It really came down to monetary [concerns]," Transportation Committee Chairman Rick Gray (R-Sun City) explained. "If you put them where the federal requirements are, then it's harder to catch them on a red light camera and make them pay."

Arizona's current governor, Doug Ducey (R), has not said whether he would sign or veto the measure. Ducey will not have a chance to sign bills that would have banned photo enforcement or put the issue up for a referendum vote because both the state House and Senate fell in line with the photo enforcement industry's wishes and killed the measures.

A copy of the bill is available in a 30k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File House Bill 2593 (Arizona Legislature, 3/3/2016)

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