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New Mexico Bans Traffic Cameras From State Roads
Photo ticketing outlawed on state and federal roads in New Mexico.

New Mexico DOT
The cities of Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe have sixty days to pull down the red light cameras and speed cameras currently operating on state and federal roads in New Mexico. The New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) announced yesterday that transportation commission members unanimously decided to outlaw automated ticketing machines on thoroughfares within its jurisdiction.

"There seems to be many competing studies out there that make confusing claims about the efficacy of the devices currently in use," State Transportation Commission Chairman Johnny Cope said in a news release. "While the true safety impact of the use of these cameras is still murky at best, one thing has become clear to the Commission -- more and more New Mexico cities seem to be putting driver-generated revenues ahead of sound traffic management techniques; frankly, that concept really troubles me."

Data from Las Cruces showed that red light cameras failed to produce any significant reduction in accidents nine months into the program (view data). This finding is consistent with a number of controlled studies conducted around the world (view studies). Despite the poor safety results, red light cameras and speed cameras have generated revenue windfall in the cities that use them. Albuquerque's program, for example, has generated tens of millions in profit.

The new directive does not affect automated systems installed on local roads. After deciding to take a cut of the revenue from fines, the state government gave municipal authorities the ability to install cameras. State and federal roads, however, tend to have the greatest traffic volume and revenue potential. NMDOT identified eight specific intersections that would be affected under the new policy.

"Any existing red-light cameras violating this new policy must be removed within sixty days of the implementation of the policy," Transportation Secretary Gary Giron said. "NMDOT will work with each city on this issue; shutting down and ultimately removing the devices in a timely manner."

Update: Governor Bill Richardson issued a statement in support of the move.

"After six years of red light cameras in New Mexico, I remain deeply skeptical of this excessive, big-brother approach to public safety," Richardson said. "I fully support the ban of these cameras and vans on state and federal roads and highways, and I commend the Transportation Commission for taking a decisive stand on this issue."

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