San Jose and San Francisco will allow cameras to be used for speed enforcement — a practice that is currently illegal in California — if a California State Assembly bill announced Wednesday passes.
The bill (AB 342) was presented by Assembly Member David Chiu, a Democrat representing San Francisco, at San Francisco General Hospital, KRON 4 reports. Chiu said that “automated speed enforcement, which is already used in 142 other communities across the country, has been proven to reduce speeding, change driver behavior and reduce crashes leading to injuries and deaths,” according to the news channel.
In California, automated cameras are allowed for red light enforcement, but not to ticket speeders. The bill would create a five-year pilot program allowing the two Bay Area cities to install and test cameras.
In San Jose, a similar program, begun in 1996, was shut down in 2007 due to legal challenges and meager support from state legislators, according to KRON4.
Local news channel ABC 7 took to the streets asking for reactions to the proposal.
“They were giving a lot of tickets when it wasn’t 100 percent accurate so, I’m kind of iffy about it,” one San Francisco resident said of the red-light enforcement cameras.
Critics also expressed skepticism that it was just “a money maker for cities,” according to ABC 7.
As Next City reported last year, New York collected a considerable amount in fines from speed enforcement cameras mounted near schools during its 2015 fiscal year. But it would hardly be accurate to dismiss that program as a mere municipal money maker. In the first year that cameras were installed, speeding decreased by 60 percent in those zones.
Intersection cameras could also be a helpful tool for collecting some much-needed data on pedestrian fatalities, as Next City covered earlier this month.
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.