They’ve been dubbed an affront to motorists’ privacy, a moneymaker for cities and a lifesaver. Like it or not, red-light runners and speeders increasingly are getting caught by cameras instead of cops.
And an East Valley company is one of the front-runners in the race for national dominance in the camera-centered road crime-catching business.
American Traffic Solutions grew its client base by a whopping 40 percent in just the last three months.
The privately owned company, which located its headquarters and global operations center in Scottsdale and its regional customer service and tech center in Mesa, has added 17 clients so far in 2007, upping its portfolio to 60.
Mesa, Phoenix, Glendale and Avondale are among those who use American Traffic Solutions services.
The company is pitching to Tempe, Scottsdale and 18 others that use other service providers or haven’t yet installed a traffic camera system, said Sherri Teille, the company’s marketing manager. And if the Arizona Department of Transportation decides to dot Loop 101 with cameras, the local company is itching to bid for the business, she said.
American Traffic Solutions has systems installed in four of the six biggest U.S. cities — Phoenix, New York City, Philadelphia and Houston. It is the largest provider of photo traffic safety services in Texas and has 90 percent of the market share in Missouri, she said.
And it’s making a run at passing the biggest U.S. service provider in the business, Redflex Traffic Systems, she said.
“We are a close second, and soon we should be the market leader,” Teille said.
It’s no wonder the 15-yearold company is projecting $40 million revenue for this year.
American Traffic Solutions claims to be gaining speed by providing the “best technology, and the smallest and least obtrusive,” cameras available, Teille said.
Mesa Councilman Rex Griswold is a fan.
The company replaced Mesa’s big, old, difficult-to-relocate cameras with small, portable, digital versions, he said.
Griswold said the cameras have been a major factor in reducing serious accidents — “Our stats prove it,” he said — but not a big moneymaker, as some believe.
“For the city, they are pretty much cost neutral,” Griswold said.
But he isn’t surprised by the speedy growth of American Traffic Solutions or the entire traffic-camera industry.
“There are two ways to control speed,” Griswold said. “You can post an officer 24 hours a day on a corner, or you can use red-light cameras. Or you could do nothing and just let accidents happen.”
Teille said the Scottsdale-based company crafts contracts however the municipality wants or, in some cases, to conform to state regulations. That means some customers pay a flat fee for the services, others pay based on the number of paid citations, and some contracts include a combination of the two, she said.
Teille said the camera systems are the “most effective and cost-efficient” method of enforcing traffic laws, but she said most municipalities, like Mesa, do not see the system as a windfall to fill up the coffers.