Drivers on Loop 101 seem to have a need for speed.
Equipment installed in January in Scottsdale that automatically photographs speeders seemed to slow leadfoots down once citations began to be mailed.
But as of this week, the number of people caught by the six cameras between Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard has nearly returned to that of the first month of the program, when the city was just giving warnings.
Pat Dodds, city spokesman, said he believes the speed enforcement camera program has been effective, and attributed the recent lack of publicity of the Loop 101 cameras for the increase in speeders.
“One thing that helped lower the number of speeders at the beginning of this test program was the large amount of publicity,” he said. “When we put speed cameras up at the 7700 block of Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard, it took several months for the speeds to come down, and that could be the case here.”
The city’s nine-month pilot program takes pictures of motorists traveling faster than 75 mph.
Through Thursday, 89,279 speeders have been snapped since Jan. 21, city records show.
During the warning phase that ended Feb. 22, the cameras had caught 30,169 speeders, according to statistics by Redflex Traffic Systems, the private company that manages the program.
That figure dropped by about one-third in the next month, when ticketing began. But between March 25 and April 24, the cameras caught speeders 29,718 times.
Citations average $157.
Not all the camera flashes result in legal action, for various reasons. As of Wednesday, the Scottsdale City Court has mailed 18,438 citations, city officials said.
Some motorists push their vehicles to the limit on Loop 101. On 166 occasions, the cameras have recorded people driving more than 100 mph, Dodds said.
Police don’t take kindly to such reckless behavior and have arrested four people on suspicion of reckless driving and excessive speeding who were photographed.
But police just don’t have the manpower to catch all the 100-mph-plus offenders, said Bruce Kalin, contract manager for the Scottsdale Police Department.
“There’s a limited number of people we have out there trying to catch speeders, so there’s a limited number of people we can send out to try to find people who don’t want to be found,” Kalin said. “We’re looking for a bunch of others who were driving dangerously or were speeding excessively from the warning phase of the program, but we just haven’t been able to find them, yet.”
Kalin added the city still plans to arrest those who are photographed traveling 100 mph and faster.
“We still will aggressively investigate those who are traveling at excessive speeds or doing something dangerous while they’re driving,” Kalin said.
Cameras have caught people exceeding 100 mph without their hands on the wheel and with passengers sitting on drivers’ laps. The pilot program is slated to end in October. Whether it continues after then remains to be seen. A proposed law that would ban photo enforcement cameras from state highways is still working its way through the state Legislature.