The pursuit of authorization for speed enforcement cameras in Pennsylvania will continue into the fall.
Both chambers of the statehouse have approved differing versions of the speed cameras bill as far back as 13 months ago. Most recently, Senate lawmakers voted 44-4 to advance the bill after making another change. The House was unable to take up the bill for consideration before the General Assembly went home for the summer.
The bill, SB172, would authorize speed cameras in active work zones on interstates and federal aid highways. Specifically, a five-year pilot program would be established for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Turnpike Commission to post speed cameras.
The chambers have gone back and forth on whether to set up the pilot program for three or five years.
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 $75 fines in the mail. No points would be added to a driver’s record.
Advocates say changes are needed to driver behavior in work zones and to hopefully remind motorists to slow down in affected areas. They also highlight 2016 figures from PennDOT that show there were 2,075 crashes in Pennsylvania work zones, including 16 deaths.
A legislative analysis of the bill reports the cameras could raise in excess of $30 million annually with the state’s take being allotted to the State Police, PennDOT, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, and state 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.
The bill also 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. 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.
The provision would permit the use of speed cameras along a stretch of the 12-lane roadway that carries about 90,000 vehicles daily. Specifically, the cameras would be added between Ninth Street and the Philadelphia County line.
House lawmakers added Henry Avenue, but the Senate removed the provision.
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, a member of the National Motorists Association, has referred 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.”
The Philadelphia city council must adopt an ordinance to begin a pilot program.
SB172 awaits House floor consideration once the legislature returns this fall. If approved there, it would move to the governor’s desk.
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