El Mirage: Traffic-Collision Data Belies Officials' Claims that Speed Cameras on U.S. 60 are about Public Safety

Categories: Mirage Madness
See also: El Mirage Officials Withholding Accident Stats at Intersection with Speed Camera Until After Election, Despite Councilman's Request for Data
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El Mirage officials claim photo-enforcement cameras they installed on U.S. 60 (Grand Avenue) last year to catch red-light runners and speeders was all about safety, not revenue.

During a 2011 interview with Fox 10, Mayor Lana Mook said cars always were screeching to a stop at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Primrose Street, which is within view of her office window.

Cars screeching to a stop? Okay.

But city officials are supposed to justify the need for the cameras, according to an agreement they have with the Arizona Department of Transportation, the state agency that grants individual cities permits needed to put photo-enforcement cameras on state highways.

ADOT doesn't have any traffic reports from El Mirage. And city officials have refused New Times' repeated requests for copies of the traffic studies and crash data they were supposed to provide to ADOT.

No matter -- we obtained police officials' e-mails that show that between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2011, there were 39 traffic collision at the Grand/Primrose intersection before the cameras were installed.

The e-mails raise questions about whether safety is really at issue.

Of the 39 reported collisions, 30 were non-injury accidents. Five others caused "non-incapacitating" injuries to those involved. And three others caused "possible injury." One is listed as "blank."

Other city documents show that between 35,000 and 44,000 vehicles daily travel along Grand Avenue, including through the city's stretch of the state highway that leads to places like Wickenburg and Las Vegas.

Even assuming the low end of that estimate, that's nearly 13 million cars a year passing through El Mirage.

Or, that's about 39 million cars moving through that intersection over that three-year period when there were 39 collisions -- 30 of which caused no injuries to those involved.

During that time, there was a 0.0001 percent chance of getting into a car accident at the intersection. And the chances were infinitesimal of getting into an injury accident.

The statistics are the type of ammunition anti-photo-enforcement advocates would use to make a case for shutting down El Mirage's cameras -- because, how can the city claim with a straight face that cameras are there to make the intersection safer?

Photo-enforcement cameras have not been popular in Arizona.

In fact, after installing cameras aimed at catching speeders in 2008 on state freeways and highways, Arizona officials caved to mounting public pressure and shut down that photo-enforcement program in 2010.

Some live cameras remain peppered throughout the state in cities such as Tucson, Show Low, Prescott Valley, and Globe. And, of course, El Mirage's camera on U.S. 60, or Grand Avenue.

These cities are supposed to justify that they need the cameras, and ADOT grants permission for cities to dig up the roadway to install them.

But if city officials haven't provided a crash study to ADOT, why were the cameras installed?

ADOT tells New Times that they have no traffic studies or crash reports from El Mirage. And, again, El Mirage has ignored repeated requests for the information.

El Mirage officials did tells us that Redflex, the for-profit company that installs these cameras, has the data.

Redflex wouldn't return our calls, but a message on their voice mail advises callers that they do not maintain city-specific data and directs them back to the city.

Tim Tait, a spokesman for ADOT, told us earlier that El Mirage officials told ADOT during a meeting they had the traffic information and that they said the intersection was a public-safety concern.

ADOT, Tait says, leaves the decision to install cameras to catch speeders or red-light runners up to individual cities.

"It's a local public safety issue," he says.

There are two problems with ADOT's position.

1) That is not what the written agreement between ADOT and El Mirage states, and 2) e-mails between the city and the state agency show that those studies are "required."

El Mirage officials have to "provide the proper documentation to ADOT for justification of photo enforcement based on an adverse crash history and other necessary information," according to the agreement.

In turn, ADOT's traffic-engineering group will "review current ... speed studies, crash history reports...and other detailed reports that verify the necessity of the proposed photo-enforcement system submitted by the City."

E-mail exchanges between ADOT and El Mirage in July 2011, when the cameras were about to go up on Grand Avenue, show that ADOT put on hold the city's permit -- effectively stopping Redflex from installing the cameras.

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This isnt even a street in el mirage, it's the US 60...... if they had to provide proof to get the cameras...why was that rule not enforced?  and why should el mirage show proof anyway since it should be sheriff jurisdiction, correct?   maybe I'm wrong, but none of it makes sense to me...39 accidents isnt alot compared to some other intersections I know.... el mirage is just money hungry.   


The real story is that Arizona's definition of an intersection is contrary to Federal Law. The Federal definition of the beginning of an intersection is the first cross walk line (the first one a driver would cross). 


The reason for this is it is not desirable or safe to have cars stopped at the red light on top of the crosswalk. Once a car has entered the crosswalk it must clear said crosswalk for the pedestrians at the end of the green light cycle.


Imagine children on the way to school meandering through stopped traffic while attempting to stay in a crosswalk. If you review your taped segment, you can see that is the logical result of a driver stopping at Arizona's unlawful intersection line to avoid a ticket.   The Cities participating in this program have been duped by the photo citation companies to endanger children and pedestrians solely for the pursuit of profit.


another version of "one size fits all" govt think and then lie about it,


U.S. 60 is not and will never be a "surface street" intersection, it is a hwy with traffic lights.


how nice, now the "ones who got a ticket" can argue in court, that "the studies" were not done as required by law, therefore, the cameras should legally not be there, and therefore no evidence of any wrongdoing....should get a lot of money that way..huh



When has this group of El Mirage leaders ever answered any questions?  In the original article, I posted from thier own police stats website (www.raidsonline.com).  I pulled the last 6 months of traffic accidents for the intersection of Grand ave and Primrose where the camera is that the mayor and PD and city manager have been saying is so dangerous.  In the last 6 months, there have been 8 accidents at that specific intersection. All were accidents with no injuries and they occurred on 3/23, 4/2, 5/24, 5/29, 6/4, 6/23, 7/9, and 7/19.  None in the last month. So they have no rational answers to give so they can't respond.  Just look how the PHD eduated city manager answered when I think it was channel 12 or 15 asked why they dropped the red light running part of he cameras.  He stated that he has enough officers to enforce red light running.  Really?  I may not have a PhD (only two Masters) but if you have cops available that can catch the red light runners at that intersection, wouldn't they also be able to catch the speeders as well since a cop (which Dr Isom says he has enough of in hos answer) has to be there to catch either one?  Or is having them look at two different things too taxing for them?  Then you add that the data (public records I might add - isn't withholding public records against the law?) is put out by the police department anyway to the site i posted at the beginning, it just shows how intelligent this group is since they are puting out the data already - NOT!!! I wonder how long the data will be on the web now.  Don't worry I screen captured it so it is too late if they try to remove it ince they control what data goes on that site.  So as I said before. Mayor, Councilman Selby, Delgado, Shapera, Palladino, and  Ramirez, and the City Manager, what are you hiding?  Why won't you release it. The data is out there now that I pulled it from the web and it is public records by law so release the data to McPhetres.  Everyone knows this is just a moneymaker and not a safety issue.   It may have been when it was first pushed to the council to monitor railroad crossings but not now.  Remember this voters of El MIrage.  They came into a position of power saying they wanted transperancy in governement and not hide anything from the voters like they accused the previous group of.  What happened now?  Where is the transperency? Why are you hiding the data and not releasing it until AFTER the election?  Is it so bad that you feel you will lose the election because they will know this program has nothing to do with safety?   The three incumbents up for re-election, come on.  Stand on your own for once against the mayor (do not remember a single vote where they went against the mayor) and the city manager and push to release the data.  At least you would have a chance that way of living up to your tansperancy pledge.  If you do not, then the citizens should vote out the incumbents before it is too late for your city.


New Times is not entitled to the reports because they are not a legitimate news reporting media.


Speed cameras are NEVER about safety, they are about making money using artificially low posted speed limits deliberately set below the safety-optimum 85th percentile speed of free flowing traffic under good conditions, the limit setting method that almost always results in the smoothest and safest traffic flow with the fewest accidents.  See the science on our website.

James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI


That is why we need a change in leadership. Not only do we have a camera that should not be there, our city manager signed to extend the contract with Redflex for 2 more years. He did this without going to a public meeting of the council. The good news is that the contract may be voidable if the 5 members of the council  and the mayor who always vote together step up and admonish Dr. Isom for signing it without council approval. The three members of the council running for reelection, Delgado,Selby and Shapera have stood up against anyone including me who have had the nerve to think we know what is in the best interest of the city, when they under the leadership of Mayor Mook and Dr. Isom know what is best for us and are willing to twist the truth to make their point. I have always gone by "And the truth shall set you free". Let's talk about the red light part of the camera being shut off with this example A and B are driving down Grand, A is drunk but going the speed limit and B is going 11 miles an hour over the speed limit.A goes through the red light, but at the speed limit, he doesn't get flashed but B does. See anything wrong with this.Tell me Dr. Isom how can a cop see the red light runner but not the speeder?


Linda Kleiner


Grand is a state highway not a local street which should have been the end of the city's request to install cameras. However, the usual hanky panky employed  by city moguls to accomplish whatever they want went into action and they were able to snatch back that permit that had been pulled. Then the usual lies and manipulation of the truth  by same to try to explain and justify their wrong actions came into fully play!  Unsafe intersection? One in 40 mil chance of an accident at Grand & Primrose belies the safety issue and reinforces the real reason behind the installation of the cameras - the city's unsatiable greedy grab for money.


Mary Koestner, El Mirage



 Spoken like a true Arpaio fan.  What part of "Public Records" do you not understand?  Counilman McPhetres and this newspaper have the right to these records in a timely manner so release them. 



 I will admit that I really do not agree with you on many things Linda, but in this case I will agree with you that we need a change of leadership.  If they did sign it like you said is that an open meetings violation? If it cost over $30,000 it may also have been  possibly a procurement vioation since if it was over $30,000 it requires a counil vote.  Is this the kind of leadership you want in charge? Wasn't the city always known for shady deals, etc? Isn't that what this group wanted to get rid f whe they wanted the citizens to vote them in?  Looks like they forgot about what they promised now that they are in.



 Actually Mary, that is partially incorrect.  I really do not like justifying the leadership's actions, but in this case we need to be fair because if we are looking for facts from them, then we should be factual as well.  There is an agreement with the state that El Mirage enforces the traffic laws on the stretch of US 60 from I think Greenway to the bridge by Youngtown (may be a little off on the length but I do know they have the agreement for where the cameras are).  The thing that gets me is that most of the people that go through that area are transiting the area and do not live in El Mirage so now that people know that getting the ticket in the mail does not count as served, how much money is the city wasting on processor fees when they can not get the ticket served?


 @JoeArpaioFan That must mean you are in the revenue stream from red light cameras. They ONLY produce profits when the traffic safety engineering parameters are deliberately and maliciously set to reduce safety to increase the predatory scamera ticket revenue at the expense of lower safety for all road users.  Sorry, I vote with greater safety, NOT with the pick-pocket predatory use of red light camera cash registers.


James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI

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