POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Is it time for Utah to bring back photo cop to bust speeders?

Jun 17, 2024, 7:00 PM

drivers memorial day...

FILE -- UHP Col. Michael Rapich stops a speeding motorist on I-215 in Salt Lake County on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Washington, D.C. is enjoying success using traffic cameras to combat speeders in the nation’s capital city. But one Utah lawmaker doesn’t foresee the technology returning to Utah roads and highways.

According to The Washington Post, D.C. has installed 477 traffic cameras — 140 since November.

On one D.C. road — Wheeler Road SE — citations were down more than 95 percent from February 2022 — the first month that cameras were fully activated on that road — to November 2023.

Drivers amassed 7,556 citations on the 4000 block of Wheeler Road SE in February 2022 but 316 citations in November 2023, the data show.

Welcome to the show

State Republican Sen. Todd Weiler joined Dave and Debbie to discuss traffic cameras capturing speeders and whether it is time for photo radar or photo cop to return to Utah.

Utah law prohibits photo radar, except for inside school zones or in other areas with a posted speed limit of 30 mph or slower or other exceptions, according to FindLaw.

The Utah Legislature banned photo radar in 1996. The “Big Brother is Watching” aspect may have helped lead to its demise, Weiler suspected.

“I haven’t heard much talk in the last 12 years of bringing them back,” he said. “The Libertarians kind of hate them.”

He said legislators would prefer that a human issue citations instead of a machine because sometimes drivers may have valid excuses for speeding, such as an expectant mother in labor needing immediate medical care.

Utah speeders create deadly crashes, data shows

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 26% of all fatal crashes in Utah had a speed-related component, making the state the second-highest state for speed-related fatal crashes in the nation.

Given those numbers, why not re-implement photo radar in Utah?

Weiler said it goes back to the state’s preferred law-enforcement philosophy.

“I think it’s more of an ideological and philosophical approach to whether we’re just going to use a bunch of technology and try to catch people doing something wrong or whether we’re just going to let the police do their job.”

Weiler has served in the Utah Legislature for 12 years. He said photo radar has been mentioned just once.

“I’ve heard it discussed. It was quickly pushed aside. So I don’t see those coming back anytime soon,” he said.

Related:

‘Photo cop’ pilot program could be coming to some school zones in Utah

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard on weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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Is it time for Utah to bring back photo cop to bust speeders?