By on November 24, 2010

The Las Cruces, New Mexico city council on Monday agreed once again to continue using a photo enforcement program that has proved to cause a significant increase in accidents. The jurisdiction in May reluctantly complied with a New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) order shutting down automated ticketing on state roads. Officials ignored the evidence at the time that accidents had increased, not decreased as promised, at photo enforced locations.

With even more complete collision data in hand, the case for the automated ticketing machines looks weaker than ever. Road accidents nationwide have reached historic lows, yet the overall accident rate increased 24 percent at monitored intersections in Las Cruces, the rate of injury accidents increased 29 percent and the rate of property damage accidents increased 25 percent.

The Valley Drive at Avenida de Mesilla camera and the north Main Street and Solano Drive camera were unplugged in May, so the city provided about fourteen months’ worth of accident data before the devices were installed for comparison with another fourteen months of data up to their deactivation. Tickets have continued to flow at Lohman and Walnut Street, so twenty months of before and twenty months of after data are available. The total number of collisions at this location increased 18 percent and the number of injury collisions doubled.

City officials downplayed the significant accident increase by claiming “longer time periods are needed” to judge the effectiveness of the automated ticketing machines. A presentation created by Redflex Traffic Systems, the Australian vendor in charge of the camera program, argued that more tickets could be issued to boost program revenue. It cited an increase in speeding violations at the locations where the cameras were deactivated. The city finance department estimated that the cameras would generate $5,012,847 in revenue through fiscal 2011. Redflex locked the city into a contract that does not expire for another three years.


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5 Comments on “New Mexico: Photo Enforcement Locations See More Accidents, Injuries...”

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Oh gawddamnit!  Why can we not make decisions based on data?  Ignore the numbers everybody, we’ll just do whatever the f*%& we feel like.

    • 0 avatar

      “Why can we not make decisions based on data?”

      It’s just part of the general trend nowadays to ignore science when the data conflicts with what one wants to do (and might cost some money). After all, those scientists and engineers are just a bunch of elitists who think they know it all just because they went to some fancy school and got some high-falutin’ degree.

  • avatar

    The accumulation of wealth usurps even the lives of the all-mighty state’s citizenry.
    Love it or leave it.

  • avatar

    We have two choices.  Terminate this program as it does not add to roadway safety, the supposed purpose of installing cameras.  Our Legal Department says we will owe Redflex damages under contract and that we can be held liable.
    We can let the cameras run, and defend any cases against the city that are due to the cameras, but proof will be rough on the part of the plaintiffs.
    We can leave them running, collect the money, and hope this blows over.
    Remember, if it cost them money, no one would do this……

  • avatar

    It’s funny that while they may have turned off the cameras in two locations, this fact is not widely known in the city, and the signs are still up (signage at these intersections is no different than at the intersections with working cameras).  That means the city is getting the disadvantages of traffic cameras without getting any of the revenue, and that any comparisons between data with-camera and post-camera is meaningless.

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