The state House of Representatives has endorsed a proposal to allow Scottsdale to test photo radar on Loop 101 for up to a year.
Rep. Michele Reagan, RScottsdale, won support for a pilot project after almost an hour of debate Thursday as photo radar opponents tried to protect a Senate bill intended to ban the technology on Arizona freeways.
Reagan said SB1164, as originally drafted, would undermine months of negotiations between Scottsdale and the Arizona Department of Transportation. Scottsdale wants to see whether photo radar could reduce speeding on Loop 101, which law enforcement officials say has been key in a series of fatal crashes in the last year.
A bipartisan coalition voted to add Reagan’s amendment to SB1164. Rep. John Nelson, R-Phoenix, said photo radar can serve as a less expensive alternative to hiring more patrol officers. Rep. Meg Burton Cahill, D-Tempe, cited a study that says photo radar has reduced freeway speeds in England and Sweden.
However, Rep. Colette Rosati, R-Scottsdale, sought to undermine Reagan’s proposal with another amendment that would allow the Arizona Department of Public Safety to shift troopers from other parts of the state to beef up patrols on Loop 101.
Rosati echoed several Republicans who said photo radar doesn’t stop crime, but only records it so a ticket can be issued.
"I don’t believe it’s prudent or wise to turn over the safety of our constituents to machines," Rosati said. "Given a choice, I believe that the judgment and wisdom of our patrol officers is a much better means to make our highways safer."
A slim majority voted for Rosati’s amendment.
But the overall fate of SB1164 remains uncertain. The House still must take a roll-call vote. If the bill passes, the sponsors will seek to remove Reagan’s proposal in a conference committee with the Senate.