Oct 17, 2023
Three cities in Los Angeles County are anticipated to launch a program in 2024 allowing the use of speed cameras in areas prone to car accidents as well as street racing. The Speed Safety System Pilot Program, also known as California Assembly Bill 645 (AB 645), was signed into law last week by Governor Gavin Newsom.
AB 645’s speed camera program allows six California cities to install the devices:
“Slowing cars is imperative to saving lives,” AB 645’s author, Assemblywoman Laura Friedman of Burbank, said in a statement last month after the bill was approved by the California Legislature.
Friedman added that deaths caused by speeding motor vehicles have been incorrectly labeled as “accidents.” “These deaths are preventable,” she said.
Speed cameras will be placed in areas identified as “high-accident” corridors as well as school zones and locations frequented by street racers, according to a report from ABC 7.
The speed camera process includes photographing cars speeding at least 11 miles per hour above the legal limit in those designated areas, and then issuing tickets to the owner of a vehicle in question based on the images and data collected.
For the first two months, the speed camera program will issue warnings to drivers. Thereafter, fines for speeders caught on camera will start at $50 but can range up to $500 depending on how high above the limit the driver is clocked, ABC 7 confirmed. Tickets issued to first-time speeding offenders, however, would only be warnings, according to the bill’s language.
“The bill’s backers note that tickets issued in person by officers are typically much more expensive, in the range of $238 to $490,” ABC 7 said.
Damian Kevitt, founder of Streets Are For Everyone – a Los Angeles-based road-safety advocacy group – expressed support for AB 645.
“Reckless speeding has created a public health crisis on our roads,” Kevitt said in a statement.
“While city and county officials go through the very slow and expensive process of reengineering streets to make them safer in the future, we need a way to protect our communities from traffic violence right now. AB 645 is part of that solution,” he added.
AB 645 includes a legal appeals process for offending drivers as well as opportunities for low-income individuals to have their fines waived or reduced by up to 80%.
Multiple major cities across the United States have already implemented speed cameras – including New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. In New York, speeding was reduced by 73% after cameras were introduced.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public health confirms that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for people under 30. In 2021, 4,379 Californians died in traffic collisions (of which 1,275 were either pedestrians or bicyclists). And fatal pedestrian accidents across the nation are at a 41-year high, with California recording 1,100 deaths last year after people were hit by vehicles.
Local nonprofit Streets Are For Everyone confirms that speed has been the biggest factor in traffic crashes in Los Angeles every year since 2011. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says speed is a factor in approximately one-third of fatal motor vehicle collisions.
2022 was an unfortunate year for Los Angeles – with a record 312 traffic fatalities confirmed. There have already been 225 traffic fatalities through the September of 2023, putting the city on pace for yet another record year.
Damian Kevitt of Streets Are For Everyone told the Los Angeles Times that speed cameras will be an “effective way to enforce the law without increasing the drivers’ interactions with patrol officers.”
“Enforcement has become a bad word if you include police,” he said.
Reducing speeding through cameras could save lives, according to experts.
“The faster you are going when a crash occurs, the more likely you are to injure or kill someone,” David Zuby, a researcher with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, told the Los Angeles Times. “Speed cameras slow drivers down,” he added.
In Montgomery County, Maryland, a 2016 study of speed cameras by a nonprofit research group found that the devices reduced the likelihood of a crash that resulted in a fatality or serious injury by 19%. Additionally, cameras reduced incidents of speeding at 10 mph or more by 62%.
As the Times noted, many developed nations such as Germany, France, and the United Kingdom have utilized speed cameras for years in an effort to make streets safer for motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
“It’s pretty clear that other countries are doing a better job at reducing traffic fatalities than we are, and part of that, is there more widespread use of speed cameras,” Zuby said to the Los Angeles Times.
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