New Pennsylvania law permits use of speed cameras

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Speed enforcement cameras in Pennsylvania will soon be in place on some highways.

Gov. Tom Wolf has signed into law a bill to authorize speed cameras in active work zones on interstates and federal aid highways. Specifically, a five-year pilot program permits the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Turnpike Commission to post speed cameras along affected roadways.

“Crashes, injuries, and deaths that occur because of speeding are completely preventable, and this law is a major step in enhancing safety in Pennsylvania’s work zones,” Work said in prepared remarks. “We always urge people to drive safely, and this is especially critical for those working within and driving through work zones.”

Automated enforcement cameras can 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.

Signage advising drivers of camera enforcement are required to be posted at affected work zones.

Advocates said changes are needed to driver behavior in work zones and to hopefully remind motorists to slow down in affected areas. They also highlighted 2016 figures from PennDOT that show there were 2,075 crashes in Pennsylvania work zones, including 16 deaths.

“We have seen some speeds in work zones that are simply unacceptable, and we are confident that this tool will drive down speeding violations,” stated PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards.

A legislative analysis of SB172 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 said 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 pilot program can begin in Feb. 2019.

Roosevelt Boulevard
Also included in the new law 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, ticket cameras are authorized 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 permits the use of speed cameras along a stretch of the 12-lane roadway that carries about 90,000 vehicles daily. Specifically, the cameras can 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 said 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.

The cameras can be posted in Dec. 2018.

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

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