16 percent obedience, one killing

Arizona has turned off its state-level speed cameras; local authorities continue to enforce laws.

Opening in October 2008, the scheme was first in the United States to use speed cameras across a whole state. Amid objections of Big Brother-ism, numerous cameras were vandalised, while the operator of a van carrying a mobile camera was shot dead in a lay-by in April 2009.

The 76 cameras took 2.7 million photographs, but only 16 per cent of drivers who received a speeding ticket paid up.

The scheme generated $76 million (£50 million) for a state which has struggled to balance its budget, while the Department of Public safety reported a 19 per cent drop in fatal collisions on highways. But campaigners argued that safety could be improved by more police patrols.

Speed cameras introduced by the authorities in several Arizonan cities are unaffected by the decision.


$76 million might have been gross revenue, or it might have been net revenue after costs.

But the 84% of disobedient citizens were apparently too much of a threat to the shaky legitimacy of the state.

This reads like something out of a William S. Lind story. 84% of the residents of Arizona – I suppose some of them must be illegal aliens posing as citizens – were willing to face the consequences of refusing a speeding ticket. They were willing to say to law enforcement, “Go ahead, come and get me.”

I suppose the lack of ready cash must have been a factor, and there must have been a “free rider” factor, where the crowd judged that a safe number of people were ignoring the tickets.

I wonder how much the single, isolated killing was related to the surveillance issue. It might have been a jittery crack dealer, who was ready to shoot any target of opportunity.

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