New COS Speed Camera Program Raises Concerns About Revenue, Public Safety

You heard it first from us several months ago: Colorado Springs made it official in presentations to Colorado Springs City Council members on April 8th  and April 23rd. The revenue-generating Speed Camera Program is coming soon to Colorado Springs.

We get it: Many folks are tired of all the crazy, speed demons out there. Law-breakers must be punished, right? Will the Speed Camera Program punish speedsters? In many cases, it probably won’t.

The city’s other traffic camera program, which uses technology to capture drivers failing to stop at red lights, is a good barometer to measure the Speed Camera Program’s potential to deter speedsters in the Springs. More than 30% of those who received citations for failing to stop at red lights did not pay their fines. Will the same happen with the Speed Camera Program?

Speed Program Details

Division Chief of Prosecution with the City Attorney’s Office, Shantel Withrow, and Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) Chief Adrian Vasquez shared the speed camera program details in a presentation to city council.

The new Colorado Springs Speed Camera Program will start with 2 new AVIS system vehicles and 2 new CSPD employees who are paid around $60,000 per year. The speed cameras will be portable and mounted to vehicles. The CSPD employees will be in the vehicles documenting infractions. 

It won’t matter if a person is going 10 mph or 50 mph over the speed limit- the fines will be the same for all. It doesn’t matter if the speed camera catches a driver for 20 different violations. The driver will remain a licensed driver.

Signage will warn drivers 200-500 feet ahead of the vehicle-mounted camera. The CSPD has decided that they won’t ticket for speeds of 10 mph or less- we can safely assume CSPD has the authority to change that to whatever they want.

A decision has not been made on which private company will run Colorado Springs’ Speed Camera Program.

Automated Law Enforcement?

State law recently changed for the Automated Vehicle Identification Systems (AVIS). AVIS uses cameras to monitor and document traffic violations. Withrow and Vasquez asked for approval of a city ordinance to include the AVIS speed cameras and update current ordinances to comply with state law.

State law established maximum fine amounts, locations for speed cameras, and that fines are automatically issued to the registered vehicle owner.

AVIS speed cameras will be allowed in:

–              School zones

–              Residential neighborhoods that have residences on both sides of the street and a speed limit of 35 mph or less

–              Construction zones

–              Streets that border parks

–              Corridors that are deemed dangerous through an ordinance approved by city council

AVIS ticketing steps that will be followed by CSPD:

  • Staff will determine if a violation has occurred and send the information to the vendor.
  • Notice of the violation is sent by the vendor to the registered vehicle owner within 30 days of the violation.
  • The registered vehicle owner has 45 days to decide to either pay the ticket or go to court.
  • If the registered vehicle owner fails to respond within 45 days, a Civil Penalty Assessment will be sent by the vendor.
  • If 30 more days pass, a Final Order of Liability will be entered in municipal court after the registered vehicle owner has been personally served with the violation. The ticket is then sent to collections.

AVIS Penalties:

Red Light violations-                     $75

Speeding-                                     $40

Speeding (School Zone)-              $80

Speeding (Construction Zone)- $80

The AVIS fines aren’t high compared to the fines drivers pay if a police officer issues a ticket. Also, no points are assessed against drivers’ licenses. AVIS tickets are considered civil infractions and don’t get reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Drivers who live out of the area and are caught by AVIS won’t be ticketed, as they can’t be personally served for failure to pay the infraction.

“Personally Served”

The registered owner has to be personally served before the ticket can be sent to collections.

We reached out to CSPD for clarification of what “personally served” means. According to CSPD Public Relations Manager Ira Cronin, it “means that someone must personally deliver the documents to the registered owner”. Cronin reported tickets are “personally served” in a variety of ways “from a proactive effort to contact the individual, (knocking on their door) to contacting them regarding the ticket when they come to municipal court”. Cronin admitted, “CSPD has not hired anyone to serve these tickets specifically”.

At this time, if a registered vehicle owner is stopped by CSPD for another infraction, the officer will be unaware of unpaid AVIS-generated driving citations.

How many registered vehicle owners have had tickets sent to collections since the red-light camera program began? The number passed along to us is extremely low. A mere 136 tickets ($10,200) have been sent to collections since 2019. As we’ve reported previously, the red-light camera program collected over $5.9 million of revenue from 2019-2023.  

Our Take

If you’re cheering for the speed camera program, you might want to reconsider your support.

The Speed Camera Program will likely generate revenue, but at the expense of people who are generally law-abiding and who happen to get caught driving a little faster than the speed limit. They will admit they got caught and they’ll acknowledge their guilt by paying the ticket citations. But, for others, especially those who do not see a camera as an authority figure, they are likely going to continue not paying AVIS-generated citations.

We applaud City Councilmen Donelson and O’Malley for their “NO” votes against the speed camera program ordinance. The councilmen wanted additional details on the cost of the program. Donelson also expressed concern about those drivers who drive with the flow of traffic being nabbed by the AVIS systems.

If a person is driving along at the same rate as other drivers, and an AVIS vehicle clocks the driver over the speed limit, the driver will receive a ticket. Donelson compared it to shooting fish in a barrel. He worried about losing the trust of citizens who believe the program is about revenue. 

This Speed Camera Program is a nice, feel-good solution to the growing problem of speeding. We welcome solutions that do not unintentionally victimize generally law-abiding drivers with nameless, faceless, automated driving tickets and citations. As the red-light camera program has shown, these types of programs may end up being more about revenue than public safety, as least based on the red light camera statistics for those who do not pay their fines.

The Speed Camera Program hasn’t passed city council yet. It requires 1 more vote from council members on May 14th. Reach out to city council members to share your opinion.

Yolanda Avila

Lynette Crow-Iverson

Dave Donelson

Randy Helms

Nancy Henjum

David Leinweber

Mike O’Malley

Brian Risley

Michelle Talarico

2 thoughts on “New COS Speed Camera Program Raises Concerns About Revenue, Public Safety

  1. Speed, the horse, and the infatuation with “Round abouts” is nothing more than the Liberal politician’s efforts to gain personal control of your personal life. The Mayor is daily proof of the city’s drive to turn Colorado Springs into Denver. Removing the Hourse to Accacia park is the appropriate solution. Without destroying the intersection. A Round about will inflict great damage to the area. Speed has increased in the city because of the self inflicted ,significant amount of destruction to city roads, left unrepaired for years. Three lanes reduced to one lane makes for many frustrated drivers. Colorado Springs is the most un governed city, controlled by a mediocre Mayor and council.

  2. This is a bad idea we already have to many road rage drivers. This like red light cameras and excessive policing of drivers. Will cause more road rage and traffic accidents and traffic flow issues. The best solution is to require all Colorado drivers to take refresher driving courses every few years and teach better driving skills and habits. The cost of all the useless technology and man power will cost much less and lives. Even if the driving courses are free. The real problem is how poorly drivers are trained. Poor driving training kills more people every year than anything else. I have a saying if you can’t drive please don’t. If research is done on all accidents we will find that most accidents could’ve been prevented if the drivers were better trained. We rely on drivers that are bad drivers to teach new drivers that make more bad drivers. This has been the practice for so long many decades that there are so few good drivers on the roads. If we continue this practice we will end up with a police state that will cause many more problems that will lead to more violence road rage and most of all more unnecessary deaths. We should study all driving accidents closely and se how many of them could have been available if the drivers were better trained. Not gut in driving skills but driving laws. And can automobile handling and automobile safety management. Lives are at stake. Insurance companies costs would go down from fewer driving deaths. Drivers spending would decrease traffic would flow better. And police would be able to focus more on the crime problems that are growing out of hand. More laws that no one can keep up with is never a good solution. Training for a privilege is a great solution. As driving a automobile is a privilege. Not a right in this country. And all drivers should be trained. If we start now it won’t take decades to solve the problem it will take possible one decade. And save incredible amount of lives and money. And that is what government and police officers job is. Not providing revenue.

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