Red light and speed cameras: A focus on new numbers


By Bud Foster


The Tucson Police Department released new numbers to the Tucson City Council, which show that between 2006 and 2015, accidents have decreased by 70 percent in intersections with red light cameras. But opponents say those figures do not tell the whole story.

“That may be a truthful number but not necessarily scientifically correct,” said Mark Spear, an engineer who has opposed the cameras for years. “It’s very empirical.”

Tucson’s Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor presented the report to the council, which is currently gathering information ahead of a vote on Proposition 201 that is scheduled for November’s general election ballot.

A yes vote would rid the city of the cameras.

Read the PowerPoint presented to the council HERE:

Pima County supervisors voted to remove dozens of speed cameras two years ago citing public concerns and lack of revenue generation. The council cannot advocate one way or another for the ballot measure, but it stepped up close to the line. The presentation gave council members information and numbers they can use in an “educational campaign.”

According to Villaseñor, there were 188 accidents at the eight intersections included in the data in 2006, but that fell to 57 in 2015.

He said he believes the decrease is because of the red light cameras, and that the evidence shows this. Villaseñor also told the council that after expenses, the cameras generate $1.7 million profit for the general fund, which brings up the argument that the cameras are more of a revenue generator than they are a safety factor.

There is likely little doubt it does lower accident rates to a certain degree, but how much, and whether it’s worth the cost of the cameras and community complaints, is up for debate.

“The way I put it,” Spear said about the chief’s presentation, “He’s being misled by the data.”

Spear said the numbers being presented are not “untruthful, it’s just that they are not academically sound.”

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