Assemblywoman Laura Friedman held a press conference on Monday to discuss her legislative work, Assembly Bill 645, which, if passed, will attempt to better control speeding.
“This bill is a sensible pilot [program] involving six cities over five years to allow for automated speed cameras to be used in our most dangerous areas – in front of schools, in places we’ve seen the most accidents and in other areas where we have very vulnerable populations,” Friedman said.
The bill has passed in the Assembly and in the Senate Transportation Committee, and on Tuesday, it passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Once amendments are made, the bill will be referred back to the Committee on Appropriations.
The cities involved in this bill, which Friedman said has been four years in the making, are Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Long Beach, Oakland and Glendale. Friedman began the conference by discussing the importance of monitoring speed in areas near schools.
“We are in northwest Glendale in the heart of our school district with a high school across the street, a middle school in front of us and an elementary school next door,” she said. “And we chose this location for a reason. A few years ago, unfortunately and tragically, a child was killed in front of these schools.” In 2008, an 11-year-old girl was hit by a car outside Eleanor J. Toll Middle School and killed.
“We have far too many deaths happening across the roads in California. And those deaths have been skyrocketing in the last few years,” she added.
Friedman went on to discuss what the implementation of this bill will look like. Using radar technology, the cameras will pick up on the license plates of cars going 11 miles or more over the speed limit and will initially issue a warning ticket to the vehicle. On second offense, vehicles in violation of the speed limit will receive a $50 fine with a small escalator for every 10 miles over the speed limit the car is going.
Additionally, drivers will be warned when they are entering a zone that contains one of the speed cameras. Tickets are given strictly to the vehicle in violation of the speed limit, not the driver — similar to a parking ticket.
As for where the money generated from these tickets goes, Friedman said the following: “All the money goes to implementing the program and anything leftover can only go to physical improvements for those same streets to make them safer. These are not meant to be cash cows for cities.”
One community member raised potential concerns about equity or possible discrimination when it comes to choosing which neighborhoods will receive these cameras.
“In this bill we have measures to ensure that [the speed cameras] are equitably distributed in every different kind of neighborhood in terms of income and ethnicity so that they are not all put in certain types of neighborhoods,” Friedman said in response.
Glendale Mayor Dan Brotman thanked Friedman for her work on AB 645 at the press conference, emphasizing her commitment to end “the epidemic of roadway violence,” and spoke about the dangers of speeding as they pertain to particular groups.
“We know that speed doesn’t kill equally,” Brotman said. “It disproportionately kills lower income people, children and seniors, since for various reasons, they are often the ones who need to walk, bike or take transit to get where they’re going.”
He also gave context to where Glendale currently stands on addressing road violence.
“We’re working on [re-engineering our roads] aggressively, but it will take years to navigate through the obstacles and millions of infrastructure spending,” he said. “In the meantime, we need short-term solutions to keep people from dying violent deaths on our roadways, and that means enforcement.”
Glendale Police Department’s Chief of Police Manuel Cid also spoke in favor of the bill.
“The pilot program would allow the police department and this community to leverage the technology of automated speed cameras to improve traffic safety and to ultimately save lives,” Cid said. “Speed cameras will diversify how our police department conducts traffic enforcement and education efforts throughout our community, as well as provide invaluable insights that can be used for traffic engineering around our community.”
According to the Federal Highway Administration, speed cameras can reduce crashes on urban streets by 54%. Speed cameras in New York City reduced speeding in school zones by up to 73%. A National Transportation Safety Board review of speed cameras around the world found that cameras can reduce fatal collisions by a low of 17% to a high of 71%.
“Speed cameras are being used in other states… and they have seen a dramatic decrease in speeding in the areas that they’re using the cameras and they’ve also seen a dramatic decrease in injuries and deaths due to speeding and reckless driving,” Friedman said. “I’m hoping that we replicate those same results here.”
Glendale resident Cindi Enamorado shared the story of her younger brother, age 27, who was run over and killed in February in front of the house he had just purchased with his fiancé. The driver was going more than 100 mph in a residential area.
“We should have never gone through this,” she said. “If this bill would have been in place years ago, I’d still have my brother. This bill will and can save lives and that’s why I fully support it because most of these traffic violation collisions are linked to speed and they are 100% preventable.”
First published in the July 15 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.