A bipartisan bill authorizing speed enforcement cameras in Pennsylvania has completed its trek through the statehouse.
Both chambers of the statehouse have reached agreement on one version of legislation that 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.
Senate lawmakers 47-1 to agree with House changes to the bill. The House previously approved SB172 on a 173-22 vote. Passage at the statehouse clears the way for the legislation to move to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk for his expected signature.
“The primary focus of this bipartisan bill is to protect our highway workers who, by the performance of their civic duties, are placed in harm’s way to improve the Commonwealth’s transportation system,” Sen. Bill Rafferty, R-Montgomery, said in prepared remarks.
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 a written warning. A second offense would result in a $75 fine in the mail. Subsequent offenses would carry a $150 fine.
No points would be added to a driver’s record.
Advocates say changes are needed to driver behavior in work zones and to 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, Turnpike Commission, and Motor License Fund.
A portion of fine revenue routed to the State Police would be used to increase state trooper presence in work zones on roads managed by PennDOT or the Turnpike Commission.
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.
Also included in the bill is a provision that 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.
Following a 30-day warning period, violators exceeding the posted speed limit by at least 11 mph would face up to $150 fines. No points would be added to driver’s licenses.
Opponents say ticket cameras are nothing more than a “scam” aimed right at drivers’ wallets. They add that safety concerns on roadways would be better addressed by using engineering principles that include synchronizing traffic lights.
The Philadelphia city council must adopt an ordinance to begin a pilot program.
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