Neat Speed Camera Locator

While making the run out here, I had the experience of hitting about a half dozen “speed cameras” in a row outside of Phoenix on I-10…

The good news is that my general driving rules prevented me from triggering them. The bad news is that they are there… Drivers rapidly become aware of the location and at that point, there was a rapid slow down of the traffic with the attendant crowding and risks… It is a great traffic jam generator as it starts a peristaltic slowdown wave into the rush.

The wiki said that the Phoenix cameras are set to trip at 11 mph over. Hope your speedometer is accurate…

Phoenix Speed and Light Camera Map

Phoenix Speed and Light Camera Map

This map comes from the rather nice site here:

http://photoenforced.com/us.html

And while it’s helpful, it is missing a few. There were more than are shown on the map out there on that stretch of road…

This article:

http://www.radartest.com/GPS_Detector_Database_Test.asp

did a test of some of the GPS / database driven trap detectors on the market and did find some with many errors and others with fewer errors, but more latency. (Maybe Google can run it as part of Google Earth and up the quality ;-)

In this wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_limit_enforcement

they did have a couple of interesting comments:

A 2007 study of speed cameras on the Arizona State Route 101 in Scottsdale found a 50% reduction in the total crash frequency, with injuries falling by 40% however rear-end collisions increased by 55%.

Consistent with that ‘slam on the brakes when you see a camera’ effect… and hope the guy behind you has better brakes than yours…

As of late 2008 cameras are being placed along all Phoenix area freeways capturing drivers doing speeds greater than 11 mph over the posted speed limit. Over 100 new cameras are expected to be up and running by 2009.

I’ve also seen a quote that the Automobile Association has declared all of Arizona a speed trap.

So, for future reference, it looks like the least camera ridden route, and the one with the least time spent buying California Gas (that ran about a half dollar more per gallon than anywhere else) is to head out on I-80. There are some “onsy twosy” cameras that don’t show on the map at this scale, so you will need to visit the site and zoom in for details in the middle of nowhere…

USA Speed and Light Camera Map

USA Speed and Light Camera Map

Such as this:

Southwest Speed and Light Camera Map

Southwest Speed and Light Camera Map

About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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12 Responses to Neat Speed Camera Locator

  1. David says:

    Damm, I did not know they were doing this except at traffic lights. BTW, I recieved a traffic light camera ticket several years ago, $300 fine, saw an add and paid an attorney $100 and the ticket and fine disappeared. Only time in my life an attorney did not charge me at least what he saved me, which if they can do that is normally the best definiton of a good attorney.

  2. j ferguson says:

    E.M.
    During our recent driving tour of northern France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, we saw signs on the Autoroutes indicating speed camera locations – and well before the actual camera. We were told that there are always warning signs.

    A practice which we’ve seen in some suburban speed “traps” is the placement of a speed sensor with a big display informing you of your speed and then the actual trap a few blocks beyond.

    My take from this is that the concern driving both of the above systems is that you are paying attention. They are less interested in whether you are speeding.

    Arizona sounds malicious.

  3. “Big Brother” is here. :-)
    I have seen on TV that those cameras are causing more accidents than preventing them.

  4. R. de Haan says:

    Big brother everywhere.

  5. John Slayton says:

    I drive between LA and Tucson several times a year. I can’t say that I like speed traps, but having driven in Phoenix both before and after their installation, I do think they have settled things down quite a bit. My personal solution: Go around through Buckeye and Gila Bend.

    Actually, I can’t believe people get caught in the open-country speed traps. With yellow-flag warnings a quarter mile ahead of the trap, you’ve really got to be out to lunch to blow through one of those. I’d bet a good percentage of those who do are DUI.

  6. Layne says:

    You should have taken a monkey mask E. M. (and maybe a fake plate) That appears to be the way to speed with impunity….

    http://www.clipsyndicate.com/video/playlist/282/1090307?cpt=8&title=ap_strange_news&wpid=0

  7. ken clark says:

    I can’t imagine why you idiots who complain about cameras/speed traps etc., don’t just set your cruise control at 5 miles over the limit and sit back and enjoy the ride. If everyone would do this it would solve a lot of traffic problems.

  8. W^L+ says:

    I had heard that AZ was pulling the plug on those cameras. A coworker was caught in one during a recent stint in an Arizona office.

    Incidentally, I subscribe to your feed, but because you don’t use full feeds, I have to click through to actually read your articles. A full feed would help me speed.

  9. In Australia, at least in the state of Victoria, we get ripped off by the “Revenue Sourcing” Cameras (authorities call them Road Safety cameras), set to fine you at 6 kph, ie. 3.5mph over the limit. And they try to convince the motorist, and themselves, apparently, that this is in the interests of road safety.
    No regard for road conditions, weather conditions, day/night, driver competence, vehicle type, vehicle condition! No allowance for reasonable speedo errors, absolutely no relationship to safety. No consideration for the driver watching the road instead of his speedo. Just collecting revenue.
    This is one area, maybe the only one, where the US is not so bad.

  10. Paul Hanlon says:

    Well, they’ve just announced 600 permanent speed traps around Ireland. It’s not just that it’s a small country, but there aren’t actually that many roads. Very few of these traps will be where the actual accidents happen.

    The sad thing is we’re only just getting decent roads, and it’s as if they want to suck every bit of the joy out of driving. And how it can be possible in this day of computers not to be able to sequence one set of traffic lights after another, I’ll never know.

  11. John Slayton says:

    This may be OT, but let’s pretend I’m merely extending the topic. Paul mentions traffic computers. I have for some time wondered if there are not circumstances where computer control degrades the traffic system.

    Years ago, in the early 60s, I lived in Pasadena and worked in West Los Angeles. My transportation was an under-powered BSA motorcycle that was not freeway legal, so I had to use surface streets each way. I’d guess it was something over twenty miles, and city all the way. Thing was, after doing it a while, I was able to make the commute and rarely have to stop. There was one glorious night when I made it all the way home without stopping for a single light.

    I doubt you could do that today. The reason: computer control seems to have made the lights unpredictable. To use an analogy: the old traffic hardware was like your computer’s system clock. It enabled the peripherals (individual drivers) to function efficiently without collision. The current system is like trying to design unclocked logic. Just doesn’t work.

    Which brings me to the question of computer models. I suppose there are models that try to describe traffic flow. (Gotta be; everyone does models.) What do those models assume about the drivers? In particular do they attempt to account for how drivers repond to uncertainty? Do they drive faster? Slower? At what point do they throw up their hands and give up trying to drive intelligently? Seems like a good project for someone who likes to play with positive vs. negative feedback.

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    @John Slayton:

    I’ve seen a show about places in the UK and Europe that are dumping lights at intersections and just telling folks “Work it out” and getting significant improvement in traffic flow. Seems that “schooling” behaviour is a built in function in people… (So we can sense when that other part of the pack is going to move and adapt to it rapidly…)

    Personally, I’ve seen a dramatic reduction in flow quality as they moved from ‘timed lights’ and simple ‘demand lights’ to these ‘computer tuned demand’ lights.

    When I was just starting to drive many cities had timed lights on the major roads. One stop, you were ‘formed up into a packet’ and from that point on if you stayed at the set speed you just flowed. Yeah, stuck at the speed limit, but not stopping. “Hot foot Harry’s” would rush ahead, to be caught at the next light, watching a wall of cars approach from behind… laggards would sometimes not make a light, and get formed up into the next packet.

    Then we went to ‘demand lights’. You could get caught at a light for a modest time, but not too bad. One fairly predictable ‘light cycle’ later and you were on your way. But the next light was out of sync, so it was 50/50 if you would take a halt or not. Only real problem was the early lights did not detect small motorcycles, so I learned the art of running red lights… (Sat through one in the middle of nowhere for 3 full cycles and a long pause… as 3 cars came to OTHER lanes and got their lights – mostly left turns – while I got nothing. Then decided I’d demonstrated my “intent” enough and with no car visible in any direction just ran the thing. Next time was 2 cycles. Then one “ought to be a cycle”…)

    Then came the dreaded Traffic Engineers….

    Now the lights are not predictable, but as soon as there are no cars coming for “a while” will turn red. So if you are ‘formed up’ in a group by the last red light, you are pretty much guaranteed to be caught at the next light as it turns red (having just let someone or other through). But it doesn’t just recognize it’s mistake by doing the ‘demand light’ turn green thing. No, it’s “Intelligent”… It just KNOWS that there must be some cars coming from the other direction at this time of day as the Traffic Engineer Computer Model said so. So it dutifully waits the predicted quantity of time. While nothing comes. As they are stuck at THEIR last light. Then turns green for you (after a wait of up to 4 minutes) and red for them, just as their packet arrives at the light…

    And holidays are horrid. The mixture of ‘engineered’ turn on on times with non-model traffic means you end up sitting interminably at lights with no-one coming. And on the main road you catch just about every light as it goes red. Why? My guess is that the lighter “rush hour” load on the main road reaches the (overly long) time out window sooner, so on the main road you don’t have time to reach the next light before it’s timed out and gone red (just as you approach). Yet on the side roads, you still get it sit and wait for 3.5 minutes as it decides that really really the 5 pm “rush” is just not rushing down that main road.

    It’s all based on the fallacy that central control is better than distributed decision making.

    That one error is the root of so many evils. From the EU central authority, to the USA Federal Power Grabs, to Planned Communism (and central planning in general), to major corporations that grow to the non-performance stage (all the time remembering “economies of scale” and forgetting it’s Evil Twin “DIS-economices of scale”…) and even to the lowly traffic light.

    Yet the ‘powers that be’ always lust after more. Even with repeated demonstrations that distributed local control regularly works better. The entire USA structure was designed on distributing the power to make decisions as locally as possible, and worked well for a very long time. Since about W.W.II, we’ve moved steadily toward more central / Federal control. And we’ve become steadily more broken. The proposed solution? More central authority and control…

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/7187165.stm

    And it’s not just lights that can have a ‘counter intuitive’ effect. It can be whole roads. This article also has an interesting bit on cooling a city:

    http://www.infrastructurist.com/2009/07/06/huh-4-cases-of-how-tearing-down-a-highway-can-relieve-traffic-jams-and-help-save-a-city/

    In 2002, Mayor Lee Myung Bak pledged to renew South Korea’s capital Seoul by eliminating a 1970s-era highway that literally represented a paving over of the Cheonggyecheon River. His radical plan replacing it not with another road, but with a restored stream along the old riverbed. The immediate result of the intervention was a beautiful new 1000-acre park in the center of the city, lower pollution, cooler temperatures city-wide. What wasn’t expected, however, was the city’s reduced traffic volumes. After all, the road carried 160,000 cars a day before it was closed. But the highway’s closing was enough to convince thousands of people to drive less, or change their habits, as the city offered better public transportation options.

    A fairly dramatic demonstration of 2 things.

    1) The Urban Heat Island and how hydrology can impact heat more than anything else.

    2) People react to changes in non-model ways.

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