NMA Email Newsletter: Issue #30

Redflex Red-faced about Automated Traffic Ticket Notices

In a snafu of significant proportion, close to 3,600 people in the Phoenix area who received traffic violation tickets were recently scheduled on the West McDowell Justice Court docket for appearances at exactly the same time. About 2,000 of the violations involved photo-enforcement tickets from the Arizona State Department of Public Safety (DPS). Redflex provides and operates the ticket cameras for the DPS.

Those who showed up to fight their tickets grew angry at long delays, and court administrators became equally frustrated. “The clerks are completely overworked, very stressed”, said Judge Rachel Carillo. “We have people very angry at our counters, some threatening. We are trying to get Redflex to work with us and not do what they did today.”

How did this scheduling conflict occur? DPS Lt. Jeff King said, “…I’m looking into the data to see what, if there’s an issue. We don’t have that data right now.” The automated ticketing process between the DPS and Redflex broke down, with the comments from the judge and the lieutenant pointing back at Redflex.

The court employees were actually fortunate that only a few hundred of the 3,600 people ticketed showed up at the appointed time to contest their violations, or the frustration from all involved would have been much worse. The West McDowell Justice Court said that their jurisdiction alone had 13,000 traffic tickets on their docket the prior month. Imagine if several hundred more active defendants exercised their rights in that court each and every month. It could effectively force the courts to cause a re-examination of the ticketing process.

So is Redflex embarrassed by the scheduling problem? The answer is not surprising. A quote from an unapologetic spokesperson for Redflex Traffic Systems: “Because of the compelling digital evidence, there are usually a very low number of people who do contest, which is why there were not 3,600 people in the court today. There is nothing unusual about what occurred today, but it does reveal that we have a speeding problem in Phoenix.”

Until more people engage the court system by contesting their traffic tickets, and in particular photo-based speeding tickets, traffic cameras will continue to be a cash cow for Redflex and local government agencies in cities like Phoenix.

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