Paradise Valley giveth tickets and now the town will be taking 1,000 photo enforcement tickets away because of a bad yellow-light timer.
The ticket refunds are expected to total $36,000, officials said.
The town sent 1,063 letters June 22 informing drivers ticketed between May 7 and June 17 to expect a full refund of their fines because of a faulty traffic light at Tatum Boulevard and McDonald Drive.
Drivers who paid only a citation will receive a refund of $182 and drivers who went to traffic school will receive $234.
The yellow left-turn signal at the intersection lasted only three seconds. The town has a requirement that yellow lights should last 4.5 seconds, Town Manager Jim Bacon said.
Even the town’s chief executive wondered about the Tatum and McDonald intersection’s timing when he almost received a ticket a few weeks ago.
Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker said he isn’t a big fan of photo enforcement, but does like the safety benefits.
Public Works Director Andrew Cooper said he planned to investigate whether it was equipment or human error. “We do not have all the data that we’ve requested,” he said. “We definitely know it was a failure.”
Paradise Valley contracts with Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. to supply the photo-ticketing technology at three intersections.
Residents and others began complaining when the town installed its first camera at Tatum Boulevard and Lincoln Drive in 1997. The town paid $125,000 for the camera.
Nearby Scottsdale started using enforcement cameras at intersections in 2008 as a way to condition drivers to adopt new habits. “If you don’t want a ticket, people need to change their driving habits just a little bit,” said Bill Maloney, the program manager for photo enforcement for the Scottsdale police department. “If the light turns yellow, instead of thinking ‘Oh I can make this light,’ just stop on yellow.”
In March, Maloney said the city doled out 1,100 red-light tickets, but issued 700 in April – a 36 percent decrease. Maloney said the drop mirrors that seen at other camera-enforced intersections.