City leaders agree Albuquerque has a problem with dangerous speeding and racing. Officers conducting a traffic operation this month clocked a suspected drunken driver going over 100 mph near Montgomery and Eubank. In March, State Police issued nearly 100 citations to drag racers and spectators near Balloon Fiesta Park.
But Albuquerque city councilors have been unable to agree on a framework for automated traffic cameras since Mayor Tim Keller proposed bringing them back in June, despite a trio of public input sessions in August and an online questionnaire this summer in which over 60% of the respondents supported the technology.
The City Council postponed a decision on a bill at its meeting last week because of persistent questions about the program. Councilor Pat Davis wants to know how much of each proposed $100 fine would go to the private company providing the technology. City officials say that’s impossible to know until the city chooses a vendor.
Davis has concerns about “policing for profit.” So do we.
But especially given the shortage of Albuquerque police officers, it makes sense to use speed vans with automated cameras. Davis’ concerns can be easily addressed by ensuring there is no financial incentive for the vendor to issue more tickets – no quotas, no commissions, no inducements of any kind.
The city discontinued its former red light/speeding camera program in 2011 because the public felt fleeced by Arizona-based Redflex, which got a piece of every fine, making citation recipients question everything from timing on yellow lights to calibration of the radar. Other lessons learned from the Redflex program should be applied, including a transparent appeals process, a reasonable mechanism if someone other than the vehicle owner was driving and a system for ensuring fines get paid.
Bringing back traffic cameras in mobile vans is a prudent idea – if it’s done right. No one likes getting hit with a speeding ticket in the mail. But that’s a lot better than getting hit by a speeding vehicle.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.