Speeders on the Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philadelphia might have a tougher time breaking the law if one local lawmaker gets his way.
State Sen. Mike Stack (D-Pa. 5th) is calling for Philadelphia to install speed cameras along the 12-lane roadway and has proposed changing state law to allow the city to do it. The senator introduced a bill to the state legislature last December that would open the doors for such cameras to be installed.
Stack moderated a discussion in Philadelphia on Friday on the pros and cons of the speed reduction cameras. Among the attendees was Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and representatives from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, AAA Mid-Atlantic and American Traffic Solutions, the company that makes the speed cameras.
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"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 told our news-partners at Newsworks.org on Friday.
Running as US-1, the Boulevard, as its nicknamed, runs from the Schuylkill Expressway in East Falls to Bensalem in Bucks County, Pa. – providing a major north-south link to thousands of people living in Northeast Philadelphia. An average of 100,000 drivers and thousands of pedestrians use the 111-year-old road which has a speed limit ranging between 40 to 45 mph.
Under Stacks proposal, those who drive 10 mph over the speed limit would have a picture of their license plate snapped. A few days later, they that driver will receive a fine in the mail for $100. The process is nearly the same as the city’s red-light camera program.
Stretches of the 15-mile-long roadway are already designated as “safe corridors.” Those pulled over for speeding in those specific zones are subjected to doubled fines. The Boulevard also already has several speed deterrent devices in operation including electronic speed radar signs and 40 red-light cameras at various intersections.
Despite the installations, however, there have been more than 40 deaths and at least 3,000 crashes over the past five years, according to PennDOT data.
Should the cameras be installed, Philadelphia will join a number of other major cities. New York City began issuing tickets from 20 new speed cameras in January. Washington, D.C. installed the cameras while Ramsey was police commissioner there. He told the forum he supports the move.
Ramsey told the forum that a recent operation by Pennsylvania State Police targeting speeders along the road resulted in 100 tickets being issued over a two hour span.
But not everyone is as excited by the cameras’ prospect. AAA Mid-Atlantic said while the organization would like to see speeding reduced, it has concerns about the public being fleeced.
“AAA opposes the use of automated speed enforcement systems that undermine the fair and reasonable enforcement of traffic laws and that will do little to improve traffic safety,” the organization said in a statement.
The bill is currently in the Pa. Senate Transportation committee. Stack hopes it see it pass the legislature this year.