Pennsylvania bills out to save, expand use of ticket cameras

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 11/11/2015

A slew of bills under review at the Pennsylvania statehouse cover the use of automated enforcement cameras in the state.

The House voted 179-18 to advance one bill to tweak rules for allowing vehicles to proceed through red lights if sensors do not detect the vehicles. A provision added to the bill would also abandon plans to rid the state of red-light cameras. Specifically, the state’s existing sunset provision for red-light cameras would be removed.

Automated ticketing devices are used in the city of Philadelphia and certain other municipalities. Without legislative action to save them, the devices are set to be discontinued on Jan. 1, 2017.

The enforcement tool was also saved from expiration in 2012. Then Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law a bill to continue the Philadelphia program and authorize expansion to other communities.

Critics say the change made to the bill is an effort to help ensure the existing ticketing programs never go away and also to expand their use throughout the state.

The bill, HB950, awaits further consideration in the Senate Transportation Committee.
Another bill in the Senate Transportation Committee would authorize the use of speed enforcement cameras along U.S. 1, or Roosevelt Boulevard, in Philadelphia.

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

SB1034 would permit use of the speed cameras along the roadway.

Sen. John Sabatina, D-Philadelphia, wrote in a memo to lawmakers that the bill would help address high-speed drag racing and excessive speeding that continues to plague the 12-lane roadway.

Violators exceeding the posted speed limit by at least 10 mph would face $100 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.

Senate Transportation Chairman John Rafferty, R-Montgomery, is behind a separate bill that specifies use of speed radar by local law enforcement would be limited to “trained officers” in Philadelphia, Allegheny, Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery counties. Twelve more counties in the third class (populations between 210,000 and 499,999) would also be permitted to use the technology.

Revenue raised from speeding tickets that exceeds 5 percent of the total municipal budget or 5 percent of the regional police department budget would be sent to the Pennsylvania State Police.

No points would be added to an operator’s license unless the speed recorded is at least 10 mph in excess of the posted speed limit.

Rafferty’s bill, SB559, is in the Senate Transportation Committee.

One more bill up for consideration would permit the use of speed cameras in active work zones.

The Senate and House transportation committees met recently to discuss a bill to set up a five-year pilot program for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to post speed cameras in active work zones on interstates and the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

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.

Critics 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.

The bill, SB840, awaits further consideration in the Senate Transportation Committee.

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

Copyright © OOIDA