Speed cameras move one step closer to reality in Pennsylvania

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Speed enforcement cameras in Pennsylvania could soon get the green light.

One bill halfway through the statehouse covers the use of speed cameras in active work zones on interstates and the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The Senate voted to advance an amended bill that would set up a three-year pilot program for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Turnpike Commission to post speed cameras.

As introduced, SB172 called for setting up a five-year pilot program.

Automated enforcement cameras would be used to detect drivers exceeding the posted speed limit by at least 11 mph when workers are present. Registered owners of vehicles found in violation would receive $100 fines in the mail. No points would be added to a driver’s record.

Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill, says changes are needed to driver behavior in work zones and hopefully remind motorists to slow down in affected areas. He highlights figures from 2016 that show there were 2,075 crashes in Pennsylvania work zones, including 16 deaths.

“The goal of this legislation is to safeguard the men and women who work on repairing our roads and infrastructure in order to make them safer and more efficient for motorists,” Argall said in written remarks.

A legislative analysis of the bill reports the cameras could raise $33.1 million annually with the state’s take being allotted to the State Police, PennDOT, Turnpike Commission, and Motor License Fund.

Opponents say instead of resorting to automated enforcement cameras they would rather see police officers posted in work zones. They also note that officers can monitor other dangerous driving behaviors.

Critics also question the accuracy of speed cameras.

SB172 is in the House Transportation Committee.

Another bill getting attention at the capitol singles out a major roadway in Philadelphia for speed enforcement cameras.

Red-light cameras already are authorized for ticketing in the city.

Sponsored by Rep. John Taylor, R-Philadelphia, the bill would authorize the use of ticket cameras along U.S. 1, or Roosevelt Boulevard for five years.

The 15-mile roadway stretching from the Bucks County line to Interstate 76 already has 40 red-light cameras posted at various intersections.

HB1187 would permit the use of up to nine speed cameras along the 12-lane roadway that carries about 90,000 vehicles daily. Warning signs would be posted every two miles.

Taylor says the cameras are needed to address safety concerns due to drivers exceeding the 45 mph posted speed limit.

He wrote in a memo to lawmakers that photo radar devices reduce all speed-related crashes by as much as 25 percent. Taylor added that crashes involving fatalities are reduced by as much as 44 percent.

Violators exceeding the posted speed limit by at least 11 mph would face $150 fines. No points would be added to driver’s licenses.

In addition, law enforcement would be permitted to access photo images “if they are conducting a criminal investigation.” All images captured along the roadway would be destroyed within one year.

Tom McCarey, a member of the National Motorists Association, refers to ticket cameras as a “scam” aimed right at drivers’ wallets.

He says “the safety problems on the Boulevard stem from highway-engineering malpractice” by state officials. McCarey adds that officials “refuse to use time-tested engineering principles like synchronizing the traffic lights.”

Taylor’s bill has advanced from the House Transportation Committee for further consideration in the chamber.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Pennsylvania, click here.

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