Article: Arizona Buys Rear End Collision Protection for Cops
In preparation for a massive expansion in speed camera use, an Arizona law signed late last month ensures that police officers will not be endangered by an expected increase in rear end collisions. The state's budget legislation established funding for what will soon become the nation's largest speed camera program. At least one hundred fixed and mobile photo radar devices will be deployed on freeways throughout the state to issue $165 million worth of citations (details
). Immediately after creating a photo enforcement fund to divide these proceeds, the law also created a half-million dollar program designed to protect police cruisers from accidents associated with automated enforcement.
"The sum of $500,000 is appropriated... to state and local law enforcement and other governmental entities in this state for active or passive fire suppression kits for Ford Crown Victoria vehicles to aid in the prevention of fires resulting from rear end collisions," House Bill 2210 states.
A number of studies show that the use of photo enforcement can cause a significant increase in this type of accident. A preliminary examination of Scottsdale's freeway camera program found a 54 percent increase in rear end collisions accompanied the 110,962 automated tickets issued in 2006. These accidents happened as motorists nearing the cameras panicked and braked suddenly to avoid receiving a citation. They were then struck from behind by motorists who failed to react in time to the unexpected maneuver.
The same effect is documented in independent studies of red light camera use (view studies
). Cities that implement photo enforcement often acknowledge the increase in these types of accidents, but officials dismiss their relevance, calling them "fender benders" not worthy of concern.
"While drivers who fear a ticket for red light running can cause a rear end collision by applying their brakes too rapidly, these types of collisions are far less dangerous
than the typical right-angle collision caused by red light running," the Peoria, Arizona Police Department states on its website
The National Highway Traffic Administration, on the other hand, found rear end accidents can be quite serious. It reviewed 267 fatal rear end collisions involving the Ford Crown Victoria, a favorite of law enforcement agencies, between 1992 and 2001. In eight percent of these accidents, the gas tank ruptured, causing a fire. As a result of the findings, Ford began offering a fire suppression system as a factory option on fleet versions of the Crown Victoria. Under the new law, any local or state police agency can apply to the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission for a $1000 grant to equip an existing Crown Victoria police car with a fire suppression kit to reduce the hazard from a rear end collision. More