The state Senate Transportation Committee last week held a hearing at the Pennsylvania Convention Center to consider legislation sponsored by Sen. Mike Stack that would allow Philadelphia to use automated cameras to enforce speed limits along Roosevelt Boulevard.
The cameras would photograph the license plates of motorists driving more than 10 mph over the posted speed limit. The motorists would be assessed a $100 ticket.
“I introduced this bill simply to save lives,” Stack said. “It’s encouraging to hear from experts that we have the right idea, and their testimony will help guide us through the process of passage and will help convince others of the importance of the effort.”
Michael D. Fagin, of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, testified about studies in cities that have installed speed cameras. Those studies show reductions in speeding violations of more than 80 percent.
“If you implement speed cameras as Senator Stack has imposed, I am confident that you will see a reduction in crashes and violations,” Fagin said.
Stack and Sen. Shirley Kitchen hosted the hearing, chaired by Sen. John Rafferty, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Senate Bill 1211 would authorize automated speed enforcement over 15 miles of highway considered among the most dangerous in America.
Stack noted that the Boulevard is dotted with memorials to victims of traffic accidents.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey testified that the department is trying to change the culture of racing and high-speed driving on the Boulevard. He said current traffic enforcement tactics alone simply cannot bring about this change.
“Throughout my entire career in law enforcement, this roadway is, without doubt, the most dangerous I have ever encountered,” he said. “To my knowledge, there is no other roadway like it in the country.”
Jason Duckworth, of the transportation advisory group PenTrans, testified that the legislation will not hurt taxpayers.
“This bill is one of those rare opportunities where we can save lives and improve our transportation system at nearly no cost to the government,” he said.
Alex Doty, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, said, “The best way to reduce fatalities is to reduce speed, and the best way to reduce speed is with speed enforcement cameras.” ••