DENVER (CBS4)– Last year in Denver, drivers received 562 tickets a day adding up to more than 200,000 a year for speeding from photo radar vans.

So how do police decide where to put those vans? Good Question.

“You see a quick flash and you’re trying to see, ‘Oh, what was that?'” asked one driver.

“They snap a picture of you, send it to you in the mail,” said another driver.

“It’s all about making Denver some extra money,” said yet another driver.

All those drivers were waiting in line in downtown Denver to pay their photo radar tickets but not one was a fan of the system.

The Denver Police Department’s Photo Enforcement Unit Supervisor Ted Porras decides where to park those vans.

Denver Police Photo Radar Unit (credit: CBS)

Denver Police Photo Radar Unit (credit: CBS)

With hundreds of thousands of tickets given out annually, the photo radar is a big revenue stream for the City of Denver. But Porras said it’s really about protecting the public.

“Well, photo enforcement definitely is about safety,” said Porras.

The area where the most drivers were captured by the photo radar van was 1st Avenue near University in Cherry Creek with 27,473 tickets.

“The way we decide where to enforce is really safety driven and citizen complaint driven,” said Porras.

The police department is also mandated by state law where they can place the cameras.

“We can only enforce in residential locations that are 35 mph or less, at safety zones, which includes school zones and work zones and streets that are bordering parks,” said Porras.

The area along 1st Avenue is considered residential even though it borders the Denver Country Club.

The number two location for tickets is 17th Avenue near City Park. Not everyone hates the vans in that neighborhood.

When asked about the photo radar van, one resident replied, “I love it. And I’ve also gotten ticketed.”

Other prime areas last year for photo radar include a work zone near 6th and Santa Fe, South University near the University of Denver and along Monaco between 1st and 4th.

Some wonder why the photo radar vans are absent from the most dangerous intersection in the city, Colfax and Kalamath.

“There are so many cars that just zoom, they don’t care,” said driver Lorraine Aguiniga.

When asked why a photo radar van isn’t parked there, Porras answered, “We can’t.”

That’s because state law prohibits the vans from commercial areas.

“If this program were simply about revenue we would be on streets where we could get higher numbers of speeding, you know, like Colfax, on Broadway, on Hampden.

Porras said the reason drivers continue to see the vans parked in the same places is because it forces drivers to slow down.

“They’ll say that when they drive the street again, they’re more cautious because they think the van is there,” said Porras.

Eighty-five percent of citations go to first-time offenders, which police said proves that drivers do learn to slow down after receiving a ticket.