Motorists putting the pedal to the metal on Grand Avenue near El Mirage and worried their photograph was taken by a red light and speed camera — and there have been plenty of them — can breathe a sigh of relief — until today.
The recently installed traffic cameras went live Aug. 31, and motorists were granted a two-week grace period, a sort of “get out of jail free card,” and will not receive any penalty for speeding or running the red light at Grand Avenue and Primrose Street.
Since the equipment was turned on, police said more than 2,800 activations were recorded through Sunday.
Through Monday, courtesy letters were mailed to law-breaking motorists, informing them of the violation, which this time did not mean paying a hefty fine, attending defensive driving school or accruing points on their driving records.
In addition to driving through the signal’s red light, citations will be mailed to all motorists traveling faster than 11 mph over the posted 45 mph speed limit at the intersection directly across the street from El Mirage City Hall, said Police Chief Steve Campbell.
Campbell explained fine amounts vary depending on the violation and how many miles over the speed limit the vehicle is traveling when identified by the cameras.
For a photo enforcement red light violation, motorists would pay a $280 fine.
Violators also could attend defensive driving school to keep from receiving “points,” which could increase insurance rates.
The public, lawmakers and police departments across the Valley have been debating the merits of photo enforcement cameras for years and whether there’s an inherent public safety component or if their use is simply a windfall for cash-starved cities and towns.
Last year, Gov. Jan Brewer ordered all photo enforcement cameras off Valley freeways as she and other local lawmakers believed the technology wasn’t changing motorists’ driving habits and ultimately providing enhanced public safety.
It was up to individual cities and towns, however, to decide whether photo enforcement cameras should be torn down or kept up to deter motorists from speeding and running red lights through dangerous, well-traveled intersections.
Campbell said “it is too early to determine the impact to public safety at this point.”
The chief also said the financial impact to El Mirage is unclear.
“It is too early to determine the amount of fines that will be collected for this location,” he stated in an email.
The city has three other traffic light speed cameras located at El Mirage Road and Northern Avenue; El Mirage Road and Olive Avenue; and Thunderbird Road and 129th Avenue.
Zach Colick can be reached at 623-876-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.