Driving is a privilege. Anyone who disagrees with that, or believes it is some constitutional right, needs a little more education.

Educated was just what I was told I would be getting while taking an eight-hour, daylong driving class thanks to a lovely red-light ticket I received for not making it quite fast enough to beat the cameras at River and Oracle roads.

Now, I know I wrote about this same traffic violation several months ago, but little did I know that once I decided to skip the driving school and just pay a fine, I would be receiving a surprise letter in the mail from the Arizona Department of Transportation saying that if I didn’t take this class, my license would be suspended.

The most frustrating thing about this process is the fact that it appears to be the ticket that will never go away. Did I make a mistake? According to the red-light camera, I did. Did I pay the fine as required? Yes, I did.

However, I received this letter after paying $335, saying I had to also attend this daylong traffic school for another $85. If I would have just taken the classes instead of paying the fine, the cost would have been around $225.

When our instructor stated the red-light cameras are nothing more than a revenue generator for cities like Tucson and Phoenix, I would now have to agree.

If educating the public was a priority, then I would have known about this secret rule that you have to do when you just opt to pay the fine. And, let’s face it, Arizona has one of the highest fines for such an offense in the nation. Doesn’t strike me as a state trying to improve street safety, but instead, one that wants more and more money.

I found the eight-hour class extremely boring, and from knowledge from past stories and working with police over the years, I knew a lot of the laws being discussed. However, for me, the shocking part of listening to others, who were also required to take the class, was just how little both young and older drivers know about the rules of the road.

Granted there are a lot of laws on the books, and many have changed over the years since, say a senior citizen took a driving test. There is some latitude for that, but not knowing who has the right-of-way at a four-way stop sign, or not knowing who has the right-of-way at an on-ramp on Interstate 10 was more than a little disturbing to me.

Then, you have those believing their constitutional rights have been violated because they received a ticket after being caught by a traffic camera. The argument being they didn’t get a chance to face their accuser.

Like the instructor stated over and over again, getting a driver’s license is a privilege. Obeying the rules of the road is a requirement, and thinking that just because you got caught by a machine makes you innocent is just plain nonsense.

Agree or disagree with the traffic cameras, they do catch you doing things you shouldn’t be doing.

The other disturbing part of the class was how little we really know about the rules involving when and how these traffic cameras are used. Look at the intersections at Kolb and Speedway, or at Oracle and River. There is a line before the crosswalk, and a fine line to walk with precious seconds to spare when you opt to go across trying to beat a yellow light.

Because this was so confusing to many of the students in this one-day class, I find it a little disturbing that the only time we are educated about all of it, you know in the name of safety, is after we have violated the rules.

If the cameras aren’t revenue generators, then entities should make it more of a priority to educate before the offense occurs.

(3) comments

John Flanagan

I know exactly where you are coming from. I received a ticket at the same intersection at River and Oracle roads and it didn't seem fair to me as well. The left turn arrow was green and I moved forward, however, the car in front of me hesitated long enough for the camera to catch me in the intersection.
Unlike you, I was strongly advised by others, including a traffic court representative, to immediately take the defensive driving course for about 200 dollars to facilitate two things: 1) Have the ticket removed by completing the course quickly. The course staff notify the court that you successfully passed. And 2) With the summons dismissed, your insurance company need not be notified by the court, thus not increasing your insurance premiums.
The defensive driving course is good for two years, so any traffic tickets before two years are up cannot save you from paying another ticket, having points on your license, or having your insurance company notified.
In effect, the camera systems are only secondarily related to safety, in my view. The are placed by the state to collect revenue. Efforts by some politicians to stop camera citations went nowhere. I can understand keeping them in place to record intersection accidents only, but not as a means to collect money.


You have to be kidding. $335 for running a red light is absolutely ridiculous. It is no wonder that so many people are developing hatred towards government.


Thelma, I agree with your conclusion that these red light (and speed) cameras are nothing more than revenue generators for the cities and counties where they are implimented. Here in Tucson, they have been installed by Pima County and the City of Tucson at numerous intersections and roadways, all under the guise that they are there to "improve safety". That's a bunch of malarky!! Two of the roads I travel frequently are Ina Road east of First Avenue and River Road east of Campbell Avenue. Pima County placed speed cameras on both of those roads in the interest of "safety", and yet I never recall there being ANY accidents at those locations before the cameras were installed. Instead, the cameras were placed in remote areas along long stretches of road, put there to catch people going above the posted speed limits. In other words, revenue generators.

One word of advice from a family friend who works in law enforcement: the police department or Sheriff's department cannot just mail you a ticket in the mail and expect that you recieved it. They either have to send it to you certified mail, or have a process server hand it to you in person. Many people don't even respond to these mailed "tickets", and most of the time the ticket just goes away. Occassionally, however, the ticket will get sent to a process server who might show up on your doorstep. But why just give the city or county a freebee instead of making THEM follow the rules??

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