Legislators are pushing the gas pedal on automated traffic enforcement with a pilot bill allowing the use of cameras to monitor speeding in six California cities.
If Gov. Gavin Newsom signs Assembly Bill 645, authored by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Burbank), the six cities can install cameras in school zones and high-accident corridors.
The six cities are Los Angeles, San Jose, Oakland, Glendale, Long Beach, and San Francisco.
Those caught driving 11 miles an hour over the speed limit or more will be sent a ticket for the violation.
Nationwide, speeding contributed to a quarter of all traffic deaths from 2009 to 2018, according to a traffic study from the city of Chicago, where lawmakers implemented a similar program.
In a news release, Friedman said the program would save lives.
“For too long, we have referred to most of these deaths as ‘accidents’ to sweep under the rug the uncomfortable truth; these deaths area preventable,” Friedman said. “Slowing cars down is imperative to saving lives.”
Cameras Have Been Effective in Other Cities, Countries
This would be the first time California has implemented cameras to catch speeding. In the 1990s, city officials employed cameras to catch red-light runners. To date, 26 jurisdictions use red-light cameras totaling 235 intersections across the state.
New York, Chicago, and Seattle use photo enforcement of speed laws.
In New York, speeding at camera sites dropped 73% as of December 2021, according to a report by the New York Department of Transportation. The number of fatal and severe injury crashes in Chicago dropped 15% around camera sites, based on estimates.
Areas with speed safety systems in Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand experienced reductions in the number of fatalities by 12% to 65%, according to a 2005 review.
Equitable Enforcement? Legislators Want Progressive Traffic Fines
Legislators don’t want the program concentrated in poorer areas of cities.
City officials have to inform their residents about the program and decide where the put the limited number of cameras they are allowed. They have to show that those streets are sites of regular speeding or accidents. Cameras cannot be used on freeways or unincorporated areas of town.
The cameras can only be used for five years once they’ve been implemented. The entire program sunsets in 2032.
Legislators also put in a tiered penalty system for tickets. The higher the speed, the higher the cost. But legislators also looked at the equity impact.
An analysis of the bill stated “a $50 ticket is less burdensome to an upper-middle income person than a minimum-wage worker.”
Speeders who earn less than 200% of the federal poverty level get their tickets reduced by 50%. Those considered “indigent” get 80% reductions or community service. Violations will not result in a point against a driver’s record in any situation.