The tragic death of a young mother and three of her children last year has lawmakers and law enforcement officials calling for change. Speeding cars on Roosevelt Boulevard killed the family as they crossed the 12-lane highway in the middle of a block.
Now some are pushing for “speed cameras” to get cars to slow down.
State Sen. Mike Stack, D-Philadelphia, said the idea came about after he asked Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey how to make the boulevard safer. The commissioner’s answer? Speed cameras, which snap photos of zooming cars and send tickets in the mail.
Stack said the legislation he’s introduced to legalize speed cameras in Pennsylvania would not expand the purview of Big Brother or punish drivers for going a little faster than the limit. His proposal calls for issuing tickets to those who exceed the limit by at least 10 mph.
“My intention is to save lives and if we can save lives through bringing in speed cameras, that’s why I want to do it,” Stack said.
The high speeds of motorists on the boulevard is a real concern, Ramsey said.
“The speed limit’s 40 mph, 45 mph. People treat those signs, those speed limits as a suggestion as opposed to a limit,” he said.
Ramsey said cameras could catch even more cars than he could by assigning officers to patrol the boulevard. Even speeders who don’t intend to harm others are unable to stop fast enough when something unexpected happens.
AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Jenny Robinson said she worries automated-enforcement programs will issue tickets to drivers who are obeying the law or barely exceeding the limit.
“AAA considers automated enforcement a last resort,” Robinson said. “And, if enacted, it must have safeguards to protect motorist rights and ensure safety, fairness, transparency and effectiveness.”
There is already substantial criticism of red light cameras on the boulevard and elsewhere. Some drivers say they’re more about making money than improving safety.
Jason Duckworth, a board member of the coalition called Pennsylvanians for Transportation Solutions, which hosted the discussion in Philadelphia Friday morning, said the technology can save lives.
“The pre- and post- technology statistics indicate a 20 to 40 percent reduction in serious injuries and fatalities where it’s been introduced,” he said.
In Maryland and other nearby states, the cameras are already in place, he said.