The speed photo enforcement cameras on an eight-mile stretch along Loop 101 in Scottsdale have flashed speeders from every state in the union plus the District of Columbia. Phoenix leads Arizona cities with the most speeders, Scottsdale is second and Mesa, with twice the population of Scottsdale, is third.
“The freeway is in Scottsdale,” said Paul Porrell, traffic engineering director for Scottsdale. “Before we started the program, we just assumed that most of the people traveling the freeway would be from Scottsdale.”
Many motorists use Loop 101 to commute to work at Scottsdale Airpark in north Scottsdale, one of the state’s largest employment areas.
Officials with local tourist organizations said the large number of speeders on Loop 101 from various cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago and New York coincided with where many of the city’s out-of-state visitors are coming from.
The Tribune examined about 60,000 Loop 101 speeding records for tickets processed by the Scottsdale City Court for all speeders between Feb. 28 and June 30. The records allow a close look at where most of the people are from who are speeding along the freeway between Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard.
Speeders flashed by the cameras are later identified, often through the photo on their driver’s license. They then receive in the mail a picture of themselves behind the steering wheel of the vehicle, with a summons to appear in court and pay a fine, averaging $157.
The system captures all motorists going 11 mph or more above the 65 mph speed limit, though only about half the pictures taken result in a citation — many have to be tossed due to sun glare or other factors.
Scottsdale launched the nine-month pilot program with a warning phase on Jan. 22, and began issuing tickets Feb. 22.
In Arizona alone, 229 of Arizona’s 310 cities and towns listed in the Rand McNally Road Atlas have residents who were flashed speeding in the enforcement zone, the statistics show.
Besides Arizona, California has the second highest number of Loop 101 speeders. Illinois was third.
Lauren Simons, vice president of marketing for the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Friday those figures weren’t surprising since New York, Chicago and Los Angeles provide many of Scottsdale’s tourists.
According to an annual survey the bureau conducts of people staying at hotels and resorts in the city, 36 percent of leisure visitors staying at luxury properties in Scottsdale were from New York and Chicago between June 1, 2004 to May 31, 2005, Simons said.
“Scottsdale attracts a cultural traveler from affluent cities, and New York and Chicago are affluent,” Simons said. “More people are able to come here from there for the warm weather, a different terrain and cultural events.”
Rick Kidder, president of the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce, suggested that it could just simply be the open road.
“Roads are congested in Chicago,” Kidder said. “When people from Chicago have the chance to drive on an open road, maybe they just tend to drive fast.”
Overall, about 21 percent of speeders are from out of state. Whereas local residents who ignore their tickets receive a visit from a process server, no one delivers tickets to out-ofstate motorists, meaning it might be tougher for the city to collect their fines.
However, speeders clocked on Loop 101 with license plates from out of the country, including Mexico and Canada, don’t receive speeding tickets at all.
Redflex Traffic System Inc., the city’s vendor in the speed photo enforcement program, isn’t able to process the speeders because it doesn’t have access to foreign registration information, Scottsdale police Sgt. Mark Clark wrote in an e-mail.
Neither Clark nor Jay Heiler, spokesman for Redflex, returned phone calls seeking comment last week.
If the City Court fails to identify or acquire proper jurisdiction of the speeder, the ticket is dismissed after 120 days, said Janet Cornell, court administrator.
However, tickets remain outstanding if offenders don’t pay them by the time of their court dates, or if a process server personally delivers the ticket within that 120 days, Cornell said.
Some of those clocked speeding just over the limit express angst against the ticketing process.
“They don’t give you any leeway,” said Ohio police Sgt. Chris Pittak, who has 24 years of experience with the police department in Lorain, near Cleveland. When Pittak was in Scottsdale for a wedding in June, he was clocked traveling 76 mph. Pittak said he hasn’t paid the $157 for the offense yet, but plans to.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Pittak said. “I wouldn’t have stopped or ticketed anyone going 11 mph over the limit.”
Bob Weir, a wrestling coach and a math teacher at Camp Verde High School in the Verde Valley, was clocked at 77 mph in March when he and his wife were in Cave Creek for a rodeo.
He said his wife, Daria, injured her knee on a barrel at the rodeo, and he took Loop 101 to rush her to the hospital.
Weir said he planned to fight the ticket, but decided to pay it after Scottsdale City Court clerk told him that his driver’s license had been suspended. Weir said he sent a letter to the court saying he was fighting the ticket, but the clerk said the letter arrived five days after his court date and his license was suspended.
A warrant also was issued for his arrest, Weir said.
“I didn’t even know my license was suspended, and I was driving around,” Weir said.
“Nobody informed me that my license was suspended. When I sent the letter to the court, I sent it before my court date, so I was going on the postmark on the letter. The clerk told me that by not showing up for your court appearance, it was considered an admission of guilt.
“This is a scare tactic more than anything so they can get your money.”