Speed enforcement cameras in Pennsylvania are one step closer to getting the green light.
The House Transportation Committee has unanimously approved an amended bill to use speed cameras in active work zones on interstates and federal-aid highways. The Senate previously approved an earlier version of the legislation.
The amended version would set up a five-year pilot program for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Turnpike Commission to post speed cameras. An earlier version of SB172 called for a three-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 driver behavior in work zones needs to change and cameras will 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 main goal of this initiative is to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities that have occurred on our highways due to careless driving and speeding,” Argall said in written remarks. “With the increased investments we have made in our roads and bridges, it is imperative that we ensure the safety of workers and drivers alike.”
A legislative analysis of the bill reports the cameras could raise in excess of $33 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.
Another change made to the bill in the House Transportation Committee singles out a major roadway in Philadelphia for speed enforcement cameras.
Red-light cameras already are authorized for ticketing in the city.
Specifically, the bill would authorize the use of ticket cameras along U.S. Highway 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.
“There have been too many serious or deadly accidents on Pennsylvania’s highways and the turnpike.” Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks, said. “It’s about time we do something about it.”
The provision would permit the use of speed cameras along the 12-lane roadway that carries about 90,000 vehicles daily. Warning signs would be posted every 2 miles.
Violators exceeding the posted speed limit by at least 11 mph would face $150 fines. No points would be added to driver’s licenses.
All images captured along the roadway would be destroyed within one year.
Tom McCarey, Berywn, Pa., a member of the Waunakee, Wis.-based advocacy group National Motorists Association, refers to ticket cameras as a “scam” aimed right at drivers’ wallets.
He has said “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.”
SB172 awaits a House floor vote. If approved there, the bill would head back to the Senate for final approval before moving to the governor’s desk.
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