The Truth About Cars » Arizona http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 05 Dec 2014 12:00:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Arizona http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Coast to Coast 2014: Monument Valley, Arizona-Utah http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-monument-valley-arizona-utah/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-monument-valley-arizona-utah/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 16:23:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950065 Albert all set for his first Hollywood movie. * You can see all my USA Coast to Coast Reports here! * I think most of you will agree that a Coast to Coast trip wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory stop at the very photogenic Monument Valley. So after pausing in New Mexico at Albuquerque and Gallup, we […]

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Albert Monument Valley 1Albert all set for his first Hollywood movie.

You can see all my USA Coast to Coast Reports here! *

I think most of you will agree that a Coast to Coast trip wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory stop at the very photogenic Monument Valley. So after pausing in New Mexico at Albuquerque and Gallup, we now drive north on US 163 to reach the legendary set of so many Hollywood Western movies, located across the Arizona/Utah state line. The vehicle landscape analysis, official sales data, a special feature on the most popular rental cars in the country, an update on how my valiant Ram 1500 EcoDiesel (Albert) is behaving and a healthy amount of spectacular and oh-so American pictures are below.

Gallup Las VegasToday’s New Mexico-Arizona-Utah-Nevada stretch, courtesy of Google Maps.

Ford F-150 ArizonaFord F-150 in Arizona

Crossing Arizona on the way to Monument Valley, the ratio of pickup trucks in the traffic goes up to 70% compared to around 60% in New Mexico before crossing the Arizona state line, logically as this is one of the most remote and rural parts of Arizona. The new generation GMC Sierra is stronger than usual, Ram pickups are now almost exclusively the Tradesman base model identical to the one I am driving (Albert) and there is a strong heritage of previous generation Chrysler 200 but no new gen yet. The Ford F-150 2-door base model like the one pictured above rules Arizona roads as it does in numerous U.S. states.

Nissan Altima Monument ValleyNissan Altima in Monument Valley AZ

The most recent Arizona sales data I managed to get my hands on dates back from the first half of 2012, courtesy of MSN Autos. At the time, the Ford F-150 logically topped the sales charts with 5,839 units, but the two other nameplates on the podium are a bit of a surprise: the Ford E-250 at #2 makes its first appearance that high in a sales ranking so far in this Coast to Coast trip, simply because rental company U-Haul registers most of its E-Series models in this state, and the Nissan Altima ranks third, confirming the trend that dictates U.S. states close to the Mexican border to particularly favour Nissans.

UPDATE: JATO Dynamics has now made Full Year 2013 data available to me for Arizona and the results are very different.

Best-selling light vehicle in Arizona – 2013:

Pos Model 2013
1 Chevrolet Silverado 8,022
2 Ford F-150 7,362
3 GMC Sierra 6,893
4 Ram Pickup 5,959
5 Toyota Camry 3,953

Source: JATO Dynamics

The Chevrolet Silverado spectacularly takes the lead thanks to the new model, it is the second state the Silverado wins so far in this Coast to Coast trip after Oklahoma. The F-150 comes at a close second followed by the GMC Sierra hitting its best state ranking so far (my observations are finding their confirmation here) and passing the Ram Pick-up. The Toyota Camry is the only passenger car in the Top 5.

Dodge Ram Monument ValleyDodge Ram 1500 in Monument Valley AZ

Even though we only dipped into Utah to enter the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, with the valley drive located entirely in Arizona, I thought it’d still be worthwhile sharing some official Utah models sales data, as this is what I do after all!

UPDATE Best-selling light vehicles in Utah – Full Year 2013:

Pos Model 2013
1 Ram Pickup 5,211
2 Ford F-150 4,164
3 Chevrolet Silverado 3,212
4 Hyundai Elantra 2,425
5 Chevrolet Cruze 2,122

Source: JATO Dynamics

Surprise on top: the Ram pickup is the most popular vehicle in Utah, topping a state’s sales charts for the first time so far in this Coast to Coast trip thanks to 5,211 units sold state-wide, a comfortable 25% margin over the Ford F-150 in 2nd position. The Chevrolet Silverado logically rounds up the podium but the remaining two nameplates in the Top 5 appear at this level for the first time: the Hyundai Elantra brilliantly takes the lead of passenger cars at #4 ahead of the Chevrolet Cruze.

Monument Valley 1Monument Valley AZ

From halfway between Gallup and Monument Valley onwards, the majority of the traffic is composed of rental vehicles as this qualifies as one of the most touristic areas in the country. Most popular are the Chevrolet Captiva, Equinox and the ever-present Impala, Nissan Versa, Sentra and Kia Sorento. The Ford Explorer seems to be the only ‘legit’ Arizona success on our journey – read not rental-based. Not long ago, The Truth About Cars published info about America’s top rental cars and this confirms my observations in and around Monument Valley.

America Top rentals. Picture courtesy of Polk Automotive

In 2013, almost all Chevy Captivas (now discontinued) went to rental fleets and nearly 75% of GMC Yukon XL did. This is indeed a model I have encountered at a very high rate since the start of this Coast to Coast trip, along with the GMC Yukon coming at #7 and a bit above 40% and the Chevrolet Suburban at #8 and a round 40%. Unsurprisingly, the Chevrolet Impala is 4th in the list of cars with the highest sales ratio to rental fleets at just under 60% and the Chrysler 200 ranks 6th, while 3 Dodge close the Top 16: the Avenger, Caravan/Grand Caravan and Charger.

Monument Valley 2Monument Valley AZ

Now that we have cleared the sales aspects of both Arizona and Utah, let’s get into some Monument Valley trivia. This is the second time I visit this breathtakingly beautiful region, the first time was exactly 20 years ago. I will never forget how shocked I was that the area was actually so small, with in fact only a handful of these striking-looking buttes. These have featured in so many movies, ads and TV shows that if you have never visited the area it is easy to imagine that the entire West of the country looks like this. In the words of movie critic Keith Phipps: “Its five square miles have defined what decades of moviegoers think of when they imagine the American West.”

Stagecoach. Picture courtesy nytimes.comA scene of Hollywood movie Stagecoach set in Monument Valley.

Monument Valley has been featured in at least 50 Hollywood movies. The first one, John Ford’s 1939 film Stagecoach, starring John Wayne, has had an enduring influence in making the Valley famous. John Ford shot a whopping nine additional Westerns in the Valley, including My Darling Clementine (1946), Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Wagon Master (1950), Rio Grande (1950), The Searchers (1956) and How The West Was Won (1962).

Albert Monument Valley 3Albert in Monument Valley AZ

Other notable Hollywood movies featuring Monument Valley include Billy the Kid (1941), Angel and the Badman (1947), Sergio Leone‘s Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Easy Rider (1968), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Thelma & Louise (1991)Forrest Gump (1994) and Mission: Impossible II (2000). Most recently, in 2014’s most popular movie at the worldwide box-office Transformers: Age of Extinctionthe scene in which the surviving Autobots reunite was shot in Monument Valley.

Monument Valley 3Monument Valley AZ

Monument Valley pickup trucksMonument Valley pickup trucks

The implied association with John Wayne’s tough, macho character also made the Monument Valley buttes a natural choice as the background for the Marlboro Man from the 1950s onwards. Finally, the rugged desert scenery for the Coyote and Road Runner cartoons takes much of its inspiration from Monument Valley.

Albert ArizonaAlbert getting some Love’s after being pushed hard.

This is the part of the trip where we pushed Albert a little more than before: the Monument Valley drive is 100% unsealed and at time rather abrupt climbs or drops. For the first time in this trip I was glad to be driving a pickup truck with a 4WD option rather than a standard sedan rattling its bumpers on scorched rocks. Don’t get me wrong this was no harsh terrain, but having to slow to an almost stop in order to negotiate ruts wasn’t uncommon. Also, the way to and from Monument Valley had very little traffic so we encouraged Albert all the way to 100mph and he seemed to enjoy this newfound freedom to its fullest. The result upon arrival in Las Vegas NV: a fuel economy shooting back up to 28.8mpg average! Well done Albert.

Matt Gasnier is based in Sydney, Australia and runs a car sales statistics website and consultancy: BestSellingCars which just celebrated its 4th anniversary.

Many thanks to David Curry for the photos in this report.

Albert mpg Vegas NVAlbert’s fuel economy after a day at high(er) speeds – and a morning parked under the sun, hence the extravagant outside temperature…

Toyota Camry Ford Escape Monument ValleyFord Escape, Toyota Camry and Albert at John Ford’s Point in Monument Valley AZ

Arizona RoadArizona road

Arizona skyArizona sky

Albert Monument Valley 2Albert in Monument Valley AZ

Albert Monument Valley 4Albert in Monument Valley AZ

Albert Monument Valley 5Albert in Monument Valley AZ

Monument Valley 4 Totem Pole in Monument Valley AZ

Monument Valley 5Monument Valley AZ

Arizona Road 2Arizona road

Arizona Road 3Arizona Road

Chrysler 200 x 2 ArizonaChrysler 200 x 2 in Arizona

Dodge Van Monument ValleyDodge Van in Monument Valley

Road to Monument ValleyThe road to Monument Valley

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Arizona AG Files $3B Lawsuit Against GM Over Ignition Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/arizona-ag-files-3b-lawsuit-gm-ignition-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/arizona-ag-files-3b-lawsuit-gm-ignition-recall/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 11:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949089 Going its own way, Arizona has filed a $3 billion lawsuit against General Motors over the February 2014 ignition switch recall. The New York Times reports Arizona attorney general Thomas C. Horne threw down the lawsuit Wednesday, alleging the automaker defrauded the state’s consumers through advertising, public statements and its website. In so doing, Horne […]

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Recalled GM ignition switch

Going its own way, Arizona has filed a $3 billion lawsuit against General Motors over the February 2014 ignition switch recall.

The New York Times reports Arizona attorney general Thomas C. Horne threw down the lawsuit Wednesday, alleging the automaker defrauded the state’s consumers through advertising, public statements and its website. In so doing, Horne and Arizona are going it alone, breaking off from a group of 48 states pursuing a multi-state investigation into the recall; Arizona was on the executive committee of said investigation:

We’re proceeding with our own suit because it’s the best way to protect the citizens of Arizona. General Motors represented that it was taking care of the safety of its cars, and in fact there were serious defects that it did not disclose to the public for years.

The suit also asserts some of GM’s senior execs — including CEO Mary Barra — knew of the defects at the same time as those below their status. Arizona is fining the automaker $10,000 per vehicle found in violation of state statutes, totalling $3 billion for 300,000 units.

For its part, GM vows to fight the suit, proclaiming it “misrepresents the facts” behind the performance of its vehicles, as well as its commitment to the safety of its customer base.

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B&B Reject Red-Light Cameras In Three States On Election Night http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/bb-reject-red-light-cameras-three-states-election-night/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/bb-reject-red-light-cameras-three-states-election-night/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 12:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=941769 Tuesday, the B&B made their voice known on the issues affecting them, including a set of referendums on the infamous red-light traffic camera. Autoblog reports voters in Cleveland and Maple Heights, Ohio, St. Charles County, Mo., and Sierra Vista, Ariz. overwhelmingly rejected the cameras on the basis that their use did more for the bottom […]

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red stop light camera

Tuesday, the B&B made their voice known on the issues affecting them, including a set of referendums on the infamous red-light traffic camera.

Autoblog reports voters in Cleveland and Maple Heights, Ohio, St. Charles County, Mo., and Sierra Vista, Ariz. overwhelmingly rejected the cameras on the basis that their use did more for the bottom line of the manufacturers than the safety of those under the electric eye.

In Cleveland, 78 percent voted to ban cameras unless law enforcement was present, while 75 percent of Sierra Vista voters ditched the technology on the outskirts of town. Meanwhile, 76 percent of voters in Maple Heights and 72 percent in St. Charles voted to ban the cameras outright.

On the other side of the issue, AAA says it’s all for the cameras, just not how they’re usually implemented. Representative Michael Green explained that while the goal of the cameras was to deter, “not to give tickets,” he could understand where implementation in certain places, such as Washington, D.C., had faltered in favor of revenue-generation and lack of transparency.

That said, usage of the cameras are falling by the wayside as is, thanks to speed cameras taking their place on the automated enforcement chain.

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Tesla Charging Station Coming To Carl’s Jr. In Gila Bend, Arizona http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/tesla-charging-station-coming-to-carls-jr-in-gila-bend-arizona/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/tesla-charging-station-coming-to-carls-jr-in-gila-bend-arizona/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:18:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=801170   Pity poor Tesla Motors. The General Motors recall crisis has knocked the electric automaker out of the auto industry headlines. There were times when half the news stories on industry feeds like this one would be about Tesla. TTAC is here to help get the company back on track to maintaining their 3:1 News […]

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 Gila Bend 2

Pity poor Tesla Motors. The General Motors recall crisis has knocked the electric automaker out of the auto industry headlines. There were times when half the news stories on industry feeds like this one would be about Tesla. TTAC is here to help get the company back on track to maintaining their 3:1 News Stories-To-Cars Sold Ratio.

The above picture was taken in the parking lot of a Carl’s Jr. fast food restaurant in dusty, desolate Gila Bend, Arizona. If you have ever been to Gila Bend you can attest to the fact that the shot is actually in color.

It was quite a jolt to spot this under-construction Tesla Supercharger station in Gila Bend this week as I was headed towards California. It proves Tesla is well on its way to building a coast-to-coast network of charging outlets. Gila Bend sits between San Diego and Tucson on I-8 at the turnoff for Phoenix, so West Coast owners on their way to Phoenix can stop here or at the Hilton Garden Inn in Yuma, Arizona to “fill up.” (Curiously, Tesla’s website currently shows no San Diego chargers or any in Tucson.)

I am sure that part of Tesla’s strategy to is locate its Superchargers at the most upscale establishments available with easy access to the interstates. In Gila Bend the best place in town is this greasy burger chain. It will certainly be a new experience for Tesla drivers to eat a Western X-tra Bacon Thickburger or walk next door to the Love’s Truck Stop during their 75 minute stopover. Certainly, members of the Tesla Motors Club are excited about Gila Bend.

If Tesla should ever go out of business, perhaps due to having no traditional dealer network as Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon suggested yesterday, or due to an end to their subsidies from the government, their charging station stanchions will become as collectable as Route 66 signs.

I want one from Gila Bend.

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More Than 550 Classic Cars For Sale In One Ebay Auction http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/more-than-550-classic-cars-for-sale-in-one-ebay-auction/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/more-than-550-classic-cars-for-sale-in-one-ebay-auction/#comments Wed, 01 May 2013 13:20:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=486335 If you have a half million dollars in your pocket, you can be the opening bidder on a lot of 550 classic cars located at a family owned towing and storage lot in Apache Junction, AZ and listed for sale on Ebay right now. According to the ad, the business has been in operation since […]

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If you have a half million dollars in your pocket, you can be the opening bidder on a lot of 550 classic cars located at a family owned towing and storage lot in Apache Junction, AZ and listed for sale on Ebay right now. According to the ad, the business has been in operation since the 1960s and the lot is filled with cars from the 1940s through the 1980s, approximately 97% of which are complete with motors, transmissions and body parts. You can even negotiate to leave the cars where they are – that way your wife will never know…

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The Case Of The Missing Bars: Leaf Owners Stage Massive Test To Prove Premature Battery Aging http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/the-case-of-the-missing-bars-leaf-owners-stage-massive-test-to-prove-premature-battery-aging/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/the-case-of-the-missing-bars-leaf-owners-stage-massive-test-to-prove-premature-battery-aging/#comments Wed, 19 Sep 2012 13:15:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=460798 Earlier this year, Nissan Leaf owners in Arizona started to observe bars missing from the charge state display of their cars. Instead of the 12 bars that signal a full battery, some saw only 10 or less. This spread like the Arizona wildfires through the EV community. As of today, the discussion at the Mynissanleaf […]

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Earlier this year, Nissan Leaf owners in Arizona started to observe bars missing from the charge state display of their cars. Instead of the 12 bars that signal a full battery, some saw only 10 or less. This spread like the Arizona wildfires through the EV community. As of today, the discussion at the Mynissanleaf forum  has swelled to 373 pages. Nissan looked at the affected cars, and so far has not rendered a verdict. Or maybe it did. 12 Leaf owners did assemble one night to prove Nissan wrong.

Three weeks ago, Nissan’s Executive Vice President Andy Palmer was quoted by Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald as saying that “we don’t have a battery problem” and that the battery level display is faulty. Enraged, the Arizona Leaf owners set up a massive test, and published the results at InsideEVs.

12 Leafs with odometer readings as low as 2,500 miles and as high as 29,000 miles assembled at night at 7755 South Research Drive, Tempe, Arizona. The location was chosen because it has a DC Chademo fast charger, and two J1772-2009 EVSE charging stations. From there, they did set out to drive the Leafs until the battery runs out, or more exactly, until the Turtle in the display strongly recommends to get off the road. They even had a small fleet of dollies and a flatbed truck to collect the exhausted Leafs.

The results of the test appear to support the group’s claim that the Leaf’s batteries degrade much faster than they should, at least in the hot climate of Arizona. A Leaf with 29,000 miles on the clock did last only 59.3 miles during the group’s test, a nearly 30 percent degradation from the 84 miles the group says a new Leaf should get. A Leaf with only 2,500 miles on the meter did last nearly 80 miles.

The test was professionally set up, VERY detailed description here. The group also measured the charge indicator, and found that in most cases, the instrument low-balls the available charge. Says Tony Williams who spearheaded the effort , and who had done an all-electric Canada to Mexico trip in a Leaf:

So, Andy Palmer was right… they have poor instruments. But, he was wrong about the batteries. It was sheer stupidity to tell this group of owners that the batteries are ok. “

We talked to Nissan’s General Manager of Global Communications, Jeff Kuhlman, in Yokohama. Kuhlman praises the affected owners who “are very knowledgeable, some are engineers themselves.”

He denies that Nissan has come to a conclusion on the matter: “We cannot give you a final analysis, because there simply is none available yet.”

Seven affected Leafs were inspected by Nissan , and subsequently returned to their customers. Nissan did a full data download on all units.

“The data are with our technical team in Yokohama, and they are still analyzing them,” says Kuhlman. “Once they have finished their analysis, the owners will be contacted first, and we will discuss with them what needs to be done.”

Kuhlman expects the verdict to be available “within days.”

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Nissan Feels The Heat For Degrading Leaf Batteries In Arizona, Owners Feel Unloved http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/nissan-feelin-the-heat-for-degrading-leaf-batteries-in-arizona/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/nissan-feelin-the-heat-for-degrading-leaf-batteries-in-arizona/#comments Sat, 21 Jul 2012 16:29:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=453698 CBS 5 – KPHO While Arizona is battling its wildfires, Nissan is having its hands full dousing the flames of Leaf owners in the Grand Canyon state. There is a rash of reports about degrading batteries, and owners blame the scorching heat. “When I first purchased the vehicle, I could drive to and from work […]

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CBS 5 – KPHO

While Arizona is battling its wildfires, Nissan is having its hands full dousing the flames of Leaf owners in the Grand Canyon state. There is a rash of reports about degrading batteries, and owners blame the scorching heat.

“When I first purchased the vehicle, I could drive to and from work on a single charge, approximately 90 miles round trip,” a Leaf owner, still an ardent fan of the car, told the Phoenix CBS affiliate. “Now I can drive approximately 44 miles on this without having to stop and charge.”

A TTAC reader reports:

“I personally was a 2011 LEAF owner in Phoenix. I lost a battery capacity bar at 10-1/2 months and 10,200 miles. I ended up selling the car out of concern about the battery. I then leased another 2012 LEAF for 2 years to keep driving gas free without the battery liability.”

Owners have banded together at the Mynissanleaf.com forum, where the thread stood at 162 pages at the time of this typing.

From reading the posts, owners still seem to stand behind the cars they believe in, but they “feel somewhat abandoned by the company they’ve supported,” as CBS reports. Nissan has made loaners available to affected owners, and will dispatched  half a dozen cars to Casa Grande to conduct extensive testing starting next week.

Contacted by TTAC, Nissan HQ in Yokohama had been unaware on Thursday, started looking into the matter on Friday, and asked on Saturday to wait for the outcome of their investigation.

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Traffic Camera Company Seeks to Rewrite Arizona Law http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/traffic-camera-company-seeks-to-rewrite-arizona-law/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/traffic-camera-company-seeks-to-rewrite-arizona-law/#comments Thu, 28 Jan 2010 15:49:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=343315 An automated enforcement company is turning to an unelected branch of government to re-write Arizona law regarding proper service for traffic tickets. Redflex Traffic Systems of Melbourne, Australia convinced John D. Wintersteen to file a petition earlier this month that asked the Arizona Supreme Court to modify the state’s rules of civil procedure to better […]

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An automated enforcement company is turning to an unelected branch of government to re-write Arizona law regarding proper service for traffic tickets. Redflex Traffic Systems of Melbourne, Australia convinced John D. Wintersteen to file a petition earlier this month that asked the Arizona Supreme Court to modify the state’s rules of civil procedure to better accommodate red light cameras and speed cameras.

“Unlike the majority of other jurisdictions that have implemented photo enforcement, Arizona’s rules governing service of process have not been simplified to accommodate the unique challenges presented by the widespread use of photo enforcement equipment,” the petition prepared by Redflex lawyers stated. “Rule 4.1 does not currently allow defendants in photo enforcement proceedings to be validly served with a copy of the summons and pleading by first-class mail.”

Under Arizona law, photo citations issued by municipalities carry license points. Although private vendors may send citations through regular mail, motorists are under no obligation to send payment unless they receive personal service. In 1992, the Arizona Court of Appeals confirmed this interpretation of state law and the city of Paradise Valley decided not to appeal to the high court (view decision).

“Regrettably, the current service of process rules have resulted in a system where those who purposefully avoid personal service are often rewarded,” the Redflex filing explained. “Myriad examples abound of the efforts traffic violators have taken to thwart service under the rules. Aside from simply refusing to answer the door to a process server, individuals have created trusts and limited liability companies to register vehicles in those entities for the express and sole purpose of evading service. Moreover, people living in gated communities frequently evade service because process servers are unable to reach those homes.”

Redflex and Wintersteen have not exaggerated their case. According to state documents, motorists have outright rejected automated citations paying them just 26.8 percent of the time. The resulting impact on Redflex finances has been so severe that investors threw out the company’s chairman for getting involved in the freeway ticketing venture that major shareholders called an “expensive failure.” Opponents of photo radar reject the idea that the state should bail a foreign company out of its difficulties.

“John Wintersteen is a front-man for Redflex,” Arizona Citizens Against Photo Radar representative Shawn Dow told TheNewspaper. “Why would the supreme court overturn 200 years of proper service because a private foreign company wants it? Australian companies shouldn’t be re-writing U.S. law.”

Although Redflex asserts that regular mail suffices for providing notice to ordinary citizens, its own contract documents forbid the use of ordinary mail when corresponding on official photo enforcement matters. Such notice may only be given by personal service, “certified mail, return receipt requested, postage and registry fees prepaid” or “a reputable overnight courier service, excluding the U.S. Postal Service” (view contract excerpt, 100k PDF).

A number of other states, including Virginia, require personal service for all traffic tickets — including red light camera citations. Interested parties may comment on the proposed rule change at the Arizona Supreme Court Rules Forum website by May 20.

The Associated Press was first to report Wintersteen’s close connection to Redflex. A copy of the petition is available in a 50k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File R-10-0002 Petition to Amend AZ Rule of Civil Procedure 4.1 (Redflex Traffic Systems, 1/19/2010)

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Arizona, Hungary, Maryland, UK: Speed Cameras Plagued by Accuracy Problems http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/arizona-hungary-maryland-uk-speed-cameras-plagued-by-accuracy-problems/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/arizona-hungary-maryland-uk-speed-cameras-plagued-by-accuracy-problems/#comments Sun, 24 Jan 2010 18:29:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=342834 Speed cameras worldwide were plagued by accuracy problems this week. In Scottsdale, Arizona, a black man received a white man’s tickets on five occasions. Because this man happened to be Larry Fitzgerald, one of the top wide receivers in the National Football League, his case was received the attention of TMZ. In five of six […]

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Speed cameras worldwide were plagued by accuracy problems this week. In Scottsdale, Arizona, a black man received a white man’s tickets on five occasions. Because this man happened to be Larry Fitzgerald, one of the top wide receivers in the National Football League, his case was received the attention of TMZ. In five of six automated ticketing photographs mailed to Fitzgerald, who is black, a white man is unquestionably behind the wheel of a Cadillac Escalade.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety insists that a human police officer personally verifies the each and every photograph before it is issued. No such review took place for the alleged speeding incidents that took place August 23, August 27 (three tickets) and January 5. The identity of the driver in the sixth photo is uncertain. This is far from the first time such an incident has happened. In Louisiana, a white man received a black man’s ticket. In 2006, another Scottsdale black man received a white man’s ticket.

In Chevy Chase, Maryland, WTOP News reported that hundreds of duplicate speed camera citations are being generated as motorists drive past a fixed camera and a mobile unit parked right next to it. Despite a “rigorous” screening process conducted by the vendor that actually operates the program, a total of 174 duplicates were generated in the first three weeks of January alone. The Village cannot guarantee that only valid tickets were mailed.

“The duplicates are supposed to be eliminated, but some do slip through the screening process,” Police Chief Roy Gordon told WTOP.

A similar problem is apparent in the town of Pecs, Hungary where a man received two speed camera citations for the same alleged offense. The tickets were timestamped less than two minutes apart, Dunantuli Naplo reported.

In Nottingham, England, motorist Jeff Buck, 55, received two speed camera tickets while his car was parked outside his home on Watnall Road on December 13. According to The Nottingham Evening Post newspaper, police insisted that his immobile Vauxhall Zafira was traveling at 37 MPH in a 30 zone. Far from an isolated incident, parked cars through Australia and Europe have received speed camera tickets, including England, France and The Netherlands.

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Arizona Governor Proposes Ballot Measure To Save Speed Cameras http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/arizona-governor-proposes-ballot-measure-to-save-speed-cameras/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/arizona-governor-proposes-ballot-measure-to-save-speed-cameras/#comments Mon, 18 Jan 2010 14:27:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=342111 In a surprise move, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) took a step to save the freeway speed camera program imposed by her predecessor, Janet Napolitano (D), the current US Secretary of Homeland Security. On Friday, Brewer proposed a Fiscal Year 2011 budget that cut spending by $1.1 billion, reduced the state’s workforce by ten percent […]

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Trouble brewing? (courtesy:ktar.com)

In a surprise move, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) took a step to save the freeway speed camera program imposed by her predecessor, Janet Napolitano (D), the current US Secretary of Homeland Security. On Friday, Brewer proposed a Fiscal Year 2011 budget that cut spending by $1.1 billion, reduced the state’s workforce by ten percent and raised taxes by $1 billion to address massive deficits brought on by overspending during the economic downturn. Also tucked into the budget were assumptions that automated ticketing would continue beyond 2011, based on expected results from a new referendum proposal.

“The executive proposes referring the continuation of photo enforcement to the voters in November 2010,” Brewer’s budget stated.

The contract to operate the freeway speed cameras expires in July, something Brewer has suggested she might allow to happen. This would be a minor defeat for Redflex Traffic Systems, the Australian company that runs the cameras, but it would not be a fatal blow. Because the public has refused to pay the $181 tickets, Redflex has actually lost money on the program. What the company most fears is the initiative being circulated by the group CameraFraud.com to place a ban on all forms of photo enforcement before voters this November. Were Brewer simply to refuse to renew the contract, there would be no reason to hold a referendum on a freeway program that would no longer exist.

Brewer would not expect cameras to win a freeway camera ballot measure. The photo ticketing industry understands that no photo enforcement measure has ever survived when put on the ballot. The only such vote to take place in Arizona resulted in two-thirds of voters rejecting speed cameras. Instead, the competing ballot measure would cause confusion and drain support from the proposed CameraFraud ban on the highly lucrative municipal red light cameras and speed cameras. This is what Redflex and its competitor, American Traffic Solutions, truly fear. Brewer’s openness to the plan likely stems from her close ties to Jay Heiler, the top lobbyist for Redflex. When she took office in 2008, Brewer’s first move was to turn to Heiler for advice on staffing her administration.

According to budget documents, the freeway photo radar program has generated $17,297,900 for Redflex, as well as $6,427,000 for the state supreme court and the judiciary. A total of $10,516,800 has gone to the state’s general fund. The state Department of Public Safety (DPS) took $2,173,000. Legislators added $1,471,700 to their personal campaign fund accounts.

For fiscal 2011, Brewer’s budget predicts that freeway cameras will issue 384,864 tickets worth $69,852,816, but because most motorists have simply refused to acknowledge these citations — the current payment rate is just 26.8 percent — a mere $18,720,636 in revenue will be generated.

Brewer did accede to one of the demands of photo enforcement opponents. On Wednesday she deposed Napolitano’s personal choice for state police chief, Roger Vanderpool. Vanderpool has been the primary spokesman for photo enforcement, using Department of Public Safety resources to conduct staged events to promote the continued use of automated ticketing machines. In Vanderpool’s place, Brewer named Robert Halliday, a 35-year DPS veteran who focused on criminal investigations and counter-terrorism.

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Redflex Profit Shrinks as Motorists Ignore Photo Tickets http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/redflex-profit-shrinks-as-motorists-ignore-photo-tickets/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/redflex-profit-shrinks-as-motorists-ignore-photo-tickets/#comments Wed, 23 Dec 2009 15:46:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=340014 As the recession continues, more and more motorists have decided to ignore red light camera and speed camera tickets issued by private companies like Redflex Traffic Systems. According to a report issued earlier today by the Australian photo enforcement giant, such non-payment contributed to a significant drop in expected profit for the first half of […]

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As the recession continues, more and more motorists have decided to ignore red light camera and speed camera tickets issued by private companies like Redflex Traffic Systems. According to a report issued earlier today by the Australian photo enforcement giant, such non-payment contributed to a significant drop in expected profit for the first half of the fiscal year. Previously reported problems, such as the “expensive failure” of freeway photo radar in Arizona, led to a shareholder revolt last month.

“Despite earlier expectations that the Arizona state-wide photo enforcement program would make a significant contribution to the year’s result, further deterioration in the rate of infringement detections and the revenue entitlement through collections has resulted in reduced expectations, both for the first half and for the full year,” the company admitted in a statement to Australian shareholders. “Many initiatives are under way to deal with the issues encountered, and we expect gradual improvement as these initiatives gain traction in the months ahead.”

The group CameraFraud has led a resistance effort to the use of freeway cameras in Arizona, causing a number of headaches for the troubled firm. Public pressure stoked by the group forced officials to scale back on the number of photo radar vans deployed to far less than half of the 200 units authorized by the statewide contract. Impromptu protests and the use of Post-It Notes on camera lenses have cut deeply into the ability of the devices that are deployed to issue tickets.

CameraFraud has also led an educational effort to inform motorists that they face no consequences if a citation mailed in Arizona is thrown in the trash. Under a 1992 state appeals court ruling, no ticket is valid unless it is served in person (view opinion). Motorists who dodge a process server for ninety days face no points, penalty or hit on their credit rating as the citation must be dismissed under state law.

A number of other problems plague Redflex. The company has spent a tremendous amount of money defending itself against a lawsuit from American Traffic Solutions which argues that the state of Arizona should never have awarded the Australian company a photo radar contract because at the time of bidding, Redflex had admittedly been using illegally imported radar equipment, in violation of federal law (view case). The company also cited the “high cost of lobbying” as Redflex invests foreign funds into American lawmakers to promote the expansion of photo enforcement throughout the country.

Despite the problems, Redflex remains a profitable company. The company’s bottom line, however, has narrowed to a mere $4 million net profit before tax for the first half of fiscal 2010. Redflex shares plunged ten percent from A$2.30 to $2.08 following the announcement.

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Arizona Legislative Memo: Traffic Camera Companies Need PI Licenses http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/arizona-legislative-memo-traffic-camera-companies-need-pi-licenses/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/arizona-legislative-memo-traffic-camera-companies-need-pi-licenses/#comments Tue, 24 Nov 2009 17:41:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=336867 Traffic camera companies operating in Arizona may be committing a crime by operating without a private investigator’s license, a newly released memorandum to the state legislature explained. The non-partisan Arizona Legislative Council, the legislature’s official source for drafting and reviewing legislation, looked at the licensing question on behalf of state Representative Sam Crump (R-Anthem). Under […]

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Of all the scams in all the world...

Traffic camera companies operating in Arizona may be committing a crime by operating without a private investigator’s license, a newly released memorandum to the state legislature explained. The non-partisan Arizona Legislative Council, the legislature’s official source for drafting and reviewing legislation, looked at the licensing question on behalf of state Representative Sam Crump (R-Anthem).

Under Arizona law, an individual who is not a police officer or insurance adjuster may not “secure evidence to be used… in the trial of civil or criminal cases and the preparation therefor” without a private investigator’s license. Violating this statute is a class 1 misdemeanor, and the legislative branch lawyers believe Arizona’s automated ticketing contractors could be guilty of this crime.

“Applying liberal construction of the definition of private investigator under the statute, the activities conducted by a photo enforcement company such as Redflex arguably fit within that definition,” the memo stated. “Mainly, Redflex gathers data and processes it for the purpose of identifying violators of the state’s traffic regulations…. In addition, ARS 32-2409 provides an extensive list of exceptions to the requirement of obtaining a license. It does not appear that Redflex would fall within any of these exemptions. Arguably, if the legislature wanted to exempt photo enforcement agencies from licensure, it could have done so by adding such agencies to the list of exemptions.”

This interpretation could have devastating financial consequences for Redflex and its competitor, American Traffic Solutions (ATS).

“If a private investigator license is required under the law, a contract to conduct private investigation activities without the requisite license could be unenforceable, and a later receipt of a private investigator’s license may not cure the prior misconduct of operating as a private investigator without a license,” the memo explained.

Both Redflex and ATS have argued that the private investigator statute does not apply to them. Redflex lobbyist Jay Heiler, for example, argued last week that the company was operating as an agent of the state Department of Public Safety. As an agent of law enforcement, Heiler argued, the company was exempt from the licensing requirement. The Legislative Council exlicitly rejected this line of reasoning.

“The contract between Redflex and the state of Arizona specifically defines the relationship of the parties and states that the vendor under the contract is an independent contractor and that neither party to the contract is an employee or agent of the other party to the contract,” the memo explained, citing Section 2.4 of the DPS-Redflex contract.

Lower courts in other states appear split on the question of whether photo ticketing companies require a license. The Legislative Council took Redflex to task for implying unanimity of court opinion by suggesting that decisions thrown out on technical grounds were actually rulings against the need for licensing.

“The court assumed without deciding that Redflex falls within the definition of an investigations company for the purposes of the court’s order,” the memo explained. “Interestingly, in a recent press release, issued by Redflex in response to the order, Karen Finley, president and CEO of Redflex, seems to imply that the court in Bell I specifically concluded that Redflex is not required to be licensed as a private investigation agency.”

On April 8, Dallas County, Texas District Court Presiding Judge Craig Smith threw out a case against a traffic camera company because the plaintiffs lacked standing to file their complaint. Smith clearly stated, however, that the photo ticketing company “is required to obtain a license under the Texas Occupations Code.”

A copy of the memo is available in a 350k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Redflex Traffic Systems Private Investigator Licensing (Arizona Legislative Council, 4/7/2009)

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