SPEED CAMERA TICKETS WON’T WORK: That’s the sentiment of several readers after Albuquerque announced the first of 10 cameras – some at fixed locations, some mobile – are now issuing warnings and go live May 25.
Kevin McKeown emails “tickets don’t work. They never work. Recall the knuckleheaded woman who racked up $76,000 worth of red-light camera tickets?”
The city revealed in 2011 there were around 150,000 unpaid camera tickets from the 2005-2011 program. In 2012 vendor Redflex Traffic Systems hired a collections agency to go after millions of dollars of unpaid fines. In 2016 Redflex, Creditwatch Services and others reached a tentative $3.5 million settlement agreement in a class-action lawsuit over robocall collection tactics. And in 2019 the City Council voted to write off $21 million in unpaid fines.
TAKE THEIR CARS: Kevin says “what will work is confiscation of the offender’s vehicle and jail. Take their toys away, like mom and dad do. How about barricades, leaving no escape for offenders? Sadly, there are thousands of these idiots in Albuquerque. I live near Trumbull and Wyoming, which is a big venue for racers. (April 24) around midnight they were really going at it. One can hear the loud mufflers, screeching tires and revving engines for miles across town and see the tire donuts the next day.”
MAKE IT COUNT AGAINST INSURANCE, LICENSE: Retired Albuquerque police Sgt. Dan Klein says in an email “to seriously change driving habits, the speed cameras should be written into the traffic code for the state or city ordinance for Albuquerque. Why won’t the mayor and council do this? They say cameras will change driving behavior, but they won’t count against insurance or points on a license. If you want to impact driving behavior, these citations must be counted against their drivers’ license and count against their insurance. This also gives the driver a chance to contest in Metro Court and not at some kangaroo court set up in the City Clerk’s Office.
“Traffic cameras are the future and the future is now,” he adds, “but the politicians aren’t taking it seriously. Why won’t they make these changes to traffic statute and city ordinance?”
SPEEDERS MAKE THE CITY LOOK BAD: Meanwhile, Paul Schmolke of Santa Fe shares he’s “glad to finally see some positive action on the speeding problem in Albuquerque. I frequently drive on Montgomery. … I’m hoping this will help slow things down a bit. It’s not only dangerous but embarrassing when I’m out with guests. The Montgomery situation especially really makes Albuquerque look bad to out-of-towners. … Perpetrators should have their cars impounded and (be) sent to jail.”
RACING CRACKDOWN LOOKS GOOD: And after last week’s column on law enforcement writing hundreds of tickets for street racing/spectating racing, Paul says, “I understand that traffic enforcement is overwhelmed. It’s a big city with many miles of streets, thousands of drivers and currently around 1,000 policemen working different shifts. I’m guessing there aren’t more than around 300 officers out there at any given time and many are occupied with other than traffic enforcement. If they can sustain their enforcement efforts I’m sure it will have a beneficial effect on the problems … I’ll hope for that.”
AND WE WANT MORE: Paul’s email ends with “now if we can get a similar response from the traffic enforcement people in Santa Fe it’ll be a positive reflection on our community. Cerrillos Road is Santa Fe’s version of Coors regarding the loud cars and racing.”
And Mar adds, “I live in the area of Spain and Tramway. I can hear the cars racing along Tramway at night. Is this area on anyone’s radar?”
The city and Albuquerque police have shared they will be factoring in resident complaints as they determine where to locate the cameras and their live enforcement.
In response to the input, Valerie Hermanson, the city’s Vision Zero coordinator, says “speeding is touching every corner of our community, demanding change now. We’re taking needed action while also accounting for important equity concerns. The speed camera program is a way to make a real change in widespread speeding that doesn’t require suddenly saddling a large amount of people with new criminal charges or points on their license that can have disproportionate effects on disadvantaged communities. APD and prosecutors will continue to focus their efforts on criminal speeders, while the new safety cameras help to influence better driver behavior. By phasing in speed cameras throughout the city, we’re taking a data-driven approach to traffic safety, and learning from that data to build a program that will get the best results for Albuquerque.”
Meanwhile, under the revamped program the city says citations that go unpaid/without completion of community service will be sent to collections, eventually affecting the individual’s credit.
Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858; email@example.com; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.