Arizona was the first state in the country to launch an extensive speed-camera system on highways and freeways.
The experiment failed.
This week, highway crews are ripping out the poles and camera housings along Interstates 17 and 10 and State Route 51 in the Valley, a chore required by the decision in May not to renew a contract with Australian speed-camera vendor, Redflex. The de-construction work represents the last time those infernal machines will slow down traffic.
Though the cameras did train motorists to ease off the pedal a tad in front of the cameras, the Big-Brother-like, oppressive aura of the system stained the agency charged with operating it, the Arizona Department of Public Safety. The DPS, which claims a motto of "courteous vigilance," took the brunt of the criticism for the statewide camera program put into place by former Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano.
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Even supporters of the program's alleged safety benefits had to admit the whole endeavor was little more than a jumbo-sized speed trap, the main purpose of which was to make money.
That being said -- everytime we pass one of those metal Watchmen, we slow down despite knowing they no longer issue tickets. We're pretty sure we're not the only ones suffering from that psychological side-effect, which means average freeway speeds are probably about to go up.