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Hobbs vetoes proposed ban on photo traffic cameras

Senate Bill 1234 would have prohibited Arizona's police departments from utilizing cameras to enforce traffic laws.

PHOENIX — Gov. Katie Hobbs has put up a roadblock to the Arizona Legislature's attempt to ban cities from using photo cameras to enforce traffic laws. 

The governor announced Friday she had vetoed Senate Bill 1234, which would have forbidden police departments from utilizing photo enforcement systems to issue speeding tickets or other citations.

Hobbs said she had heard from local leaders who warned her about the implications of signing the bill. 

"The bill's ban of photo radar would eliminate an important tool for law enforcement that allows for a more efficient allocation of limited police resources," Hobbs wrote in her veto letter.

Representatives from Chandler, Gilbert, Paradise Valley, Kingman, Mesa, Scottsdale, and the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police were all listed as being against SB 1234, according to the Legislature's website.

Whether a local driver will get caught by a photo radar camera depends on which parts of the Valley they travel through. Some cities don't have them or have chosen to deactivate their cameras.

Chandler, Mesa, and Scottsdale are local municipalities utilizing a photo enforcement system. Peoria and Paradise Valley were the first communities in the U.S. to install speed cameras back in 1987, according to the CDC.

The bill passed through the Legislature without much support from Democrats, making it more likely that it would be rejected by the governor.

Republicans criticized Hobbs' decision, calling photo radar enforcement a "cash grab" scam that violates the privacy of Arizona's drivers.

"These surveillance systems ignore the root causes of safety concerns on our roads. They do little to eliminate immediate threats like drunk drivers, reckless drivers or speeders," said state Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-District 7. 

Arizona lawmakers have unsuccessfully tried passing similar bills in recent years.

A 2019 study in England found that speed traffic cameras could reduce collisions by as much as 15%. But a 2013 study in Phoenix found that "speed cameras did not statistically contribute to an increase or decrease in the number of (collisions.)"

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