(The Center Square) – California governor Newsom signed a new bill allowing for the use of automated speeding cameras as a pilot program in Los Angeles, Glendale, Long Beach, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland.
With 31% of all traffic fatalities attributed to speeding, speed cameras, if effective in reducing speeding, could significantly reduce traffic fatalities. New York City’s speed camera program is attributed with a 73% reduction in speeding.
“For too long, we have referred to most of these deaths as “accidents” to sweep under the rug the uncomfortable truth: these deaths are preventable,” said AB 645 author Assemblymember Laura Friedman, D-Burbank. “Slowing cars down is imperative to saving lives.”
The bill creates a $25 fee for challenging violations under the pilot program in court, under which vehicles traveling between 11 and 15 miles per hour over the speed limit will receive a warning, with $50 for the second violation between 11 and 15 miles per hour over, and a flat $100 for going 16 to 25 miles per hour over, $200 for going 26 miles per hour over, and $500 for going 100 miles per hour or more. However, there will be no fee for an initial review, which the relevant local agency must complete within 60 days. If the agency decides not to overturn the violation, an administrative hearing may be pursued and must be held within 90 days of the request for an administrative hearing. If someone wishes to challenge the outcome of the administrative hearing, he or she may then appeal to court within 15 days.
Revenue from the program must first be used to recover the installation of the camera systems, while excess revenue can be used locally for traffic-calming measures such as road diets, speed bumps, and roundabouts. If the money is not spent by localities on traffic-calming measures, the funding reverts to the California Transportation Commission control for allocation.
Any individual who makes less than 250% of the poverty level — with the 2023 poverty level for a single-member household at $14,580, that means a personal income below $36,450, shall have their fines and fees reduced by 50%, or 80% if they are deemed “indigent.” “Indigent” individuals in California make 125% or less of the poverty threshold or are eligible for Supplemental Security Income or other free services under the Older Americans Act or Developmentally Disabled Assistance Act.
The bill also sets limits on the number of systems that may be deployed within any jurisdiction depending on the size of its population. Jurisdictions with over three million residents can have up to 125 speed cameras, those between 800,001 and 3 million 33 cameras, 300,000 and 800,000 18 cameras, and under 300,000 up to 9 cameras.
Lastly, the cameras must be placed “in locations that are geographically and socioeconomically diverse,” to prevent any single strata of society from facing a higher speed policing burden than another.
Authorization for the pilot program expires on January 1, 2032.