Despite issuing nearly 30,000 tickets due to data from speed cameras, the city of Albuquerque has only collected fines from 52% of them; that’s about 15,600 tickets. The other 14,400 have surpassed the 90-day window that the city allows for collection, according to Municipal Development spokesman Scott Cilke.
The Albuquerque city council approved the use of speed cameras in October to enforce speed limits through areas that had high rates of traffic fatalities and deaths along with areas that had high rates of speeders. The mayor signed off on the ordinance days later on Oct.15, 2021.
This is not the first time speed cameras have monitored the streets of Albuquerque. In 2005 the city introduced the Safe Traffic Operations Program (STOP). However, in 2011 residents voted to get rid of the cameras.
Fast forward 11 years and they are back. So far, the city has installed 10 cameras to monitor drivers. The cameras generally issue $100 fines to those going 10mph over the speed limit or more.
Thus far, the city has failed to outline what collection enforcement looks like.
According to the city’s website, if a speeder defaults on their ticket, “The City will enforce debt collections. This is not a criminal violation; therefore, a default does not result in a bench warrant, points on a driver’s license, or affect car insurance rates.”
A portion of the funds that are collected go to the Vision Zero program; a program aimed at creating safer roads. The rest goes to the operation of the speed cameras and half goes to the state.
Speeders also have the option to perform four hours of community service instead of paying the $100 fine.
“The City has currently deployed cameras at 10 fixed locations. There are plans to add more, but no additional locations have been finalized at this time. The purpose of the ASE (Automated Speed Enforcement) program is not to generate revenue or issue citations, but rather its purpose is to change driver behavior and make Albuquerque’s streets safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. The ASE program will ultimately be judged by its ability to change driver behavior and lower speeds across City road ways,” said Cilke.
Mayor Keller has suggested that collection enforcement could get more aggressive and hopes to expand the use of speed cameras. Locations for future cameras have not been finalized, according to Cilke.
“I hope that between (city) council and (the city administration), we will continue to modulate the policy to match what our city needs,” Keller told The Albuquerque Journal.
Cilke also suggested that the program would not a permanent fixture in the city. “The ASE program will ultimately be judged by its ability to change driver behavior and lower speeds across City road ways. Ideally, it will change driver behavior enough to the point where speeding is not such a problem, and the program is no longer needed,” he said.
The city says that the speed camera program is designed to keep communities safe by reducing speeds, which seems to be backed by data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
According to the CDC, “Automated speed camera enforcement is effective in reducing speed and speed-related crashes. In a Cochrane review of studies through 2010 evaluating speed cameras, all studies measuring speed or speeding saw reductions when the cameras were present.”
The city is currently waiting for a year’s worth of data to determine the effectiveness of the program. According to Cilke, cameras on Gibson and Montgomery have been collecting data since late 2021 and the city has seen a decrease in speeding in those locations.
While the cameras might slow people down, those thousands of dollars still aren’t paid up.