If you drive through the quaint Phoenix, AZ suburb of Paradise Valley, there’s a good chance that your license plate will be scanned more than once by the dozens of traffic cameras lining busy streets — but you probably won’t even see these cameras at all. Why, you ask?
Because Paradise Valley officials decided to install new cameras by hiding them inside fake cacti, and then installing the “plants” around the city.
Local authorities state that the cacti camouflage is intended to increase safety while enhancing the aesthetic appeal of Paradise Valley. Considering that this city is one of the wealthier suburbs around Phoenix, it’s actually not hard to believe that officials would be willing to spend extra taxpayer dollars on dozens of fake cacti cameras.
According to an initial report from Fox News, residents weren’t even told what the cameras were being used for until after they had been installed. Paradise Valley already uses cactus covers for unattractive cell towers, but residents were a bit alarmed to see so many “cact-eyes” popping up across the city.
Traffic cameras are already widely used in many states, including Arizona, to catch red light violations. Traffic cameras are used sparingly to catch speeding cars as well, although the legality of traffic cam speeding tickets has been heavily debated, causing many cities and states to restrict traffic cameras for this purpose.
But American drivers seem supportive of red light cameras, for the most part, probably because 97% of drivers agree that red light running presents major safety threats to other drivers and pedestrians on the road.
However, as Digital Journal notes, these cameras are rarely effective when it comes to preventing red light running and speeding. Instead, they can provide law enforcement agents with immediate information for situations involving stolen cars or suspects fleeing a crime — which is certainly useful, but perhaps not so essential that it deserves $2 million worth of fake cacti.