Arizona: Witnesses Blame Accident on Speed Camera

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper

The panicked reaction that some drivers have to the sight of a speed camera may in fact be a significant cause of accidents. The group yesterday released an Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) accident report that describes a July 25 incident in which a gray Chevy Camaro collided with a red 1994 Toyota 4Runner SUV on Interstate 17 in Yavapai County, sending two people to the hospital. Although DPS maintains that it hired an Australian company, Redflex Traffic Systems, to operate speed cameras to improve safety, the department’s own report tells a far different story. “All the witnesses reported seeing the gray passenger car lose control of the vehicle as it passed the photo radar van, and was apparently trying to slow down for the photo radar van,” the police report explained.

Scottsdale resident Tracy O. was about 500 feet from the accident. She told the police that, “The Camaro [was] trying to slow down because of speed camera.”

Scottsdale resident Helene S. told police that, “I saw the Camaro swerve out of control and hit into the red SUV. It happened after the Camaro passed a speed camera.”

Sedona resident Allison S. was about 150 feet away. “[While] driving northbound in rain right near photo radar enforcement vehicle, [we] saw [the] car fishtail ahead of us, spin and hit red SUV which then also spun off the road.”

Although no video of the Arizona incident has been released, the same panic-braking reaction was captured on tape by police in Norfolk, England. The government-owned BBC news service inadvertently aired the video clips from two such incidents last year (see below). Shortly after the news program aired, the BBC removed all copies of the footage from its website. The Norfolk Speed Camera Partnership and the UK Information Commissioner cited “technical difficulties” in refusing to release the full videos of each crash.

Arizona Traffic Accident Report 2009-038077 (Arizona Department of Public Safety , 7/25/2009)


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  • FreedMike FreedMike on Oct 10, 2009

    OK, if this guy was driving so fast, or his car was so poorly maintained, that he lost it trying to slow down to avoid a speeding ticket, then in either case, I'd rather have a live policeman handle the problem than some stupid traffic camera.

  • BjoernAbelsson BjoernAbelsson on Oct 21, 2009

    It is possible that the driving discipline is worse in the US than it is in Scandinavia or Germany. Anyway the death rate is rather much higher in the US. In the US, the number of killed people on the roads is 9.0 per billion vehicle kilometers (according to OECD, see In Sweden the number is 6.1 and in Germany it is 7.2. If we look at motorways the corresponding numbers are US 5.0, Germany 2.7 and Sweden 1.8. In Sweden we do use traffic cameras quite a lot, but only on ordinary roads, not on motorways. Their effect on safety has been thoroughly investigated. On average, traffic cameras decrease the number of killed people with 30 %. Now they are set up on spots that have a history of many accidents, so some part of the effect might be a so called "regression effect". But it is a fact that traffic cameras save lives. Before you meet a camera you will be warned by traffic signs and you can find the location of cameras at the road administration´s web site. If you have a gps in your car you can programme it to warn you for cameras. So braking at cameras is not a big problem in Sweden. Björn Abelsson Transportation Planner, Sweden

  • Lou_BC Another way to look at this is the upgrading of hardware and software. ...............The average length of car ownership is 10 - 12 years ....................The average lifetime ownership of a cell phone is 2.5 years. ................................................................... My phone will remain up to date, my vehicle won't. Especially if you buy a new "end of run" model.
  • TheEndlessEnigma "...we could be seeing a foundational shift in how Americans and car buyers see Stellantis products." yeah, I view Stellantis products as being off the cross-shop list. Stellantis is doing an excellent job of killing the Chrysler and Dodge brands and turning Jeep into something it isn't.
  • 2manyvettes 495 hp in a base C8 is more than enough. 800+ hp in a ZR1 is not worth the extra $60k (plus dealer markups). Unless the buyer is going for bragging rights. I remember when the C7 Grand Sport came out, and a reviewer got his hands on one and put it on the track at Lime Rock. His conclusion? Save yourself $15k and skip the Z06 and get a Grand Sport.
  • MaintenanceCosts Last year, I rented a closely related Audi A3. The overwhelming impression was of cheap build quality, although the drive wasn't bad. It had ~45,000 miles and the sunroof sunshade and passenger side power window were already not working correctly. Lots of rattles, too.
  • Lou_BC As others have pointed out, some "in car" apps aren't good or you pay for upgrades. My truck did not come with navigation. It was an expensive option. There's a lame GM maps app that you need to subscribe to "in-car" data. The map does not give you navigation other than to tell you where restaurants and gas stations are located. I'd want Android auto since I already pay for the phone.