Editorial: ABQ works lessons learned into city’s speed cameras 2.0

No fiscal for the vendor to issue more incentive tickets.

Little revenue beyond covering the cost of the system, and anything over that goes to traffic safety programmes.

All fines capped at $100, the option of four hours of community service instead, the chance to contest a citation.

No photos of drivers.

Welcome to speed cameras 2.0, the second iteration of Albuquerque’s foray into using technology as a law enforcement force multiplier. And this is not your past administration’s automated speed enforcement.

Ten speed cameras (seven fixed, three portable) are planned by July. Starting Monday the two on Gibson and one on Montgomery will issue warnings. On May 25 warnings become $100 tickets.

Contractor NovoaGlobal of Florida will get a flat fee of $7,900 per system/per month, preventing any “policing for profit.” Any money left after paying for the program will go only toward traffic safety initiatives geared to eliminating traffic deaths through engineering, enforcement and education, though given city estimates it would take everyone paying their fines to put $100,000 city coffers. Unlike speeding tickets in the criminal system — and in the city’s last camera system — fines do not climb into the hundreds based on how many miles over the posted speed limit a vehicle was traveling, and vehicle owners will have the option of community service. And photos will be snapped of a vehicle and its license plate, not the driver, to avoid any perception of bias or profiling.

Given myriad reports of speeding, racing and the high number of pedestrian and vehicle crash fatalities, something had to give, and ongoing challenges to add officers mean it makes sense for the city to use technology to slow drivers down. Though city voters narrowly (53.4%) rejected red-light cameras in 2011 after living with them for seven years (the program added a speed component in 2006 but dropped it in 2010), the safeguards put in place by the City Council and Mayor’s Office should help engender more trust in the program than the 2004 version.

Mayor Tim Keller, APD and city councilors need to build on these learned and monitor the program to see if it does “change driver behavior” as intended and frees up officers to patrol the state roads like Coors, Tramway and Paseo del Norte where cameras are not allowed. They should also quickly address new concerns.

Nobody likes to get a speeding ticket, even a civil fine like these that doesn’t hit their insurance or license. But nobody should be to the deadly traffic tallies in Bernalillo County —109 in 2020, 146 in 2021 — where speed is too often a factor. If automated speed enforcement can help cut those death tolls, then full speed ahead.

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.

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