The ABQ radars are put online on Wednesday; here is 411
The city of Albuquerque has been issuing warnings for nearly a month to drivers exceeding the posted speed limit on eastbound and westbound Gibson in Carlisle and eastbound Montgomery between Wyoming and Eubank.
A bunch of warnings.
The Albuquerque Police Department announced Friday that the cameras issued more than 2,000 warnings to drivers who passed the cameras between April 25 and May 19.
But that doesn’t mean that only 2,000 drivers were caught speeding.
In fact, the APD says that of the total 917,036 vehicles that passed through the three enforcement zones, all of which posted 40 mph speed limits:
• 756,013, 82%, were driving 1 mph or more over the posted limit,
• 187,849, 21%, were traveling 11 mph or more over the posted limit, and
• 32 were traveling 60 mph or more over the posted limit, ie 100 mph or more.
APD reviewed and issued 2,192 warnings to registered vehicle owners, the most egregious violators (the 100 mph or higher crowd) as well as a random sample.
From Wednesday, the automated speed enforcement system will issue citations, as well as warnings for lower level speeding.
APD officials point out that the cameras are a force multiplier, meaning officers are freed up to enforce traffic in other areas and focus on violent crime. During the same month-long period, the APD says officers wrote 3,590 traffic tickets, including 876 for speeding and 17 for running.
Where are they?
The city is planning three additional cameras in addition to the two on Gibson and one on Montgomery. Lead, Coal and Unser are next, although a city spokesperson says the exact locations have not been determined. A total of seven fixed units (like Gibson) and three mobile units (like Montgomery) are planned; placement is based on traffic and accident data and community feedback.
Who are they taking pictures of?
Only speeding vehicles – not other vehicles. The city’s website, cabq.gov, has a Frequently Asked Questions page that says “units do not capture information about images of passing vehicles that do not exceed enforcement speed.”
Does the ticket affect my insurance or my driver’s license?
No. It’s a civil fine.
How much are the fines?
$100, payable by check, money order or credit card. Online and phone payments incur a $6.95 fee, per the quote example on the website.
What if I can’t pay?
You can do four hours of community service instead.
What if I ignore my quote?
The city will enforce debt collections. Although automated speed control tickets will not appear on your credit report, they will go to collections.
What if I didn’t drive?
Citations are mailed to the registered owner of a vehicle based on records from the Motor Vehicle Division, ODA and Metropolitan Court. According to the city’s website, “If another driver is operating a vehicle registered to you and is found to have committed a violation, you can identify the person responsible with an affidavit from the owner. Note that if this person does not respect their fine, you will be responsible.
Where does the money go?
Half goes to the state, the rest to cover the cost of the program, and then to road safety initiatives.
Does the seller make more money with the number of tickets issued?
No, the contract is structured on a lump sum basis and not by quote.
Can a plate cover or spray mask my license plate?
Not likely. The city says new industrial flash technology means the cameras work even if the lenses are spray-painted, and most license plate sprays actually enhance the image of a reflective surface, making the truly glowing quote image. Moreover, the use of many of these products is illegal in itself.
Can the cameras be disabled?
Not easily. Fixed cameras are mounted high on poles, mobile units weigh 800 pounds. All are encased in heavy steel with a lens protected by bulletproof glass.
How do I dispute a ticket?
You schedule a hearing with the city clerk (the instruction will be on the summons). Hearing officers are appointed by the presiding judge of the civil division of the district court and hearings are governed by the Independent Hearings Office Order.
Since announcing the program, the Journal has received comments from some readers who hate the idea of a camera rather than a cop quoting them and are already formulating how to fight their quotes.
Here’s an idea: Slow down instead. In the first four months of this year, 36 people died on the roads in Bernalillo County alone, compared to 28 in the same time last year, according to data from the NM Department of Transportation and the University of New -Mexico. Lt. Nick Wheeler of the ODA Motor Unit says “the numbers show that more than ever we need that force multiplier to crack down on speeding on our streets. We need behavioral change, and we’re using automated speed control combined with our ongoing strategic traffic operations to get us there.
Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the metropolitan area. Contact her at 823-3858; [email protected]; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109.