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Speed Camera Bill Proposed In California Assembly; Drivers Caught Would Get Speeding Tickets In Mail

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- Red light cameras are fairly common these days, but how would you feel about cameras that can catch you speeding? A bill was introduced in the legislature Tuesday that would allow speed enforcement cameras in cities across the state.

"Speed on our streets in San Francisco is a huge problem, and with the economy recovering, we're concerned it's only going to get worse," said Brian Weidemmeier, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bike Coalition.

Weidemmeier says something has to be done about speeding in crowded urban areas, with people now driving even faster in the lighter traffic of the pandemic. Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) agrees.

"We do not have the ability to put a police officer with a radar gun on every single street corner, on every dangerous corner in the state," said Chiu. "And so, what we are asking for is the ability to pilot, to test, what we know has been confirmed to work around the country."

He's asking for speed enforcement cameras, which catch speeders automatically and send them a ticket in the mail. They're outlawed in California now, but Tuesday morning AB 550, which would make speed cameras legal, got support from the mayors of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose along with community safety groups like Walk San Francisco.

"This is one of those things that we need to have access to and try it, to see if we really can bring down those dangerous driving behaviors," said Jodie Medeiros, Executive Director of Walk SF.

Details would be formulated by a state working group, such as how fast over the speed limit a car must go to get a ticket. And there would be limits on the cameras, capping the number of citations per year, making the fines less costly and not generating points on someone's driving record. But despite those assurances, a lot of drivers are skeptical about the idea.

"They want to make some more money, I think," said Santi Alawi.

"I think that's a horrible idea," said Chris Uhland. "They should be watching you in person, not having cameras watching you."

And Tatiana Hampton said she would miss the game of cat-and-mouse with the traffic cops.

"I don't feel like it's fair," she said. "I mean, if you catch us speeding, then give us a ticket, but that's a wee bit sneaky. I don't like it."

This is the second time Assemblymember Chiu has proposed legalizing speed enforcement cameras. A similar bill was introduced in 2017, but died in the Transportation Committee.


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