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Automated enforcement?

Automated enforcement?

Our streets are experiencing a rise of serious injuries
and fatalities. As the Boston Globe recently reported, all
traffic deaths in 2017 are up 46% over the same period
of 2013
. This unacceptable trend affects people walking,
biking, and driving. Drivers who are distracted by texting
and apps are a major cause of crashes.

An Act to reduce traffic fatalities (Senate Bill 1905 /
House Bill 2877) is intended to make our roads safer in
the face of troubling trends. Drafted with broad input,
it has 85 cosponsors led by Senator Will Brownsberger
and Representatives Jon Hecht and David Rogers.

Recognizing that cities and towns need tools to enforce
traffic rules, the legislation allows use of automated road
safety cameras to enforce speeding, red-light, and school
bus stop sign violations. While Massachusetts does not
currently enable this, 29 states have some form of camera
enforcement and it is common in other countries.

Research shows automated cameras are effective. In Montgomery County, Maryland, streets with speed
cameras experienced a 39% reduction in fatal and
serious injuries. A University of North Carolina
Highway Research Center study found installation of red-light cameras can
contribute to a slight rise in rear-end crashes, but almost always leads to
significant reductions in typically more severe side-impact crashes. The
National Transportation Safety Board has endorsed automated enforcement
as an effective way to reduce speed and crashes.

With the right regulations, automated enforcement can be a highly effective
safety tool, and one that doesn’t increase traffic stops—a concern by many in a
time of increased racial profiling, and immigration issues. The language In this
bill is designed to ensure the best system of enforcement:


• Location of cameras would be based on safety benefits, not targeting any
population or neighborhood.
Cameras would be at high-crash locations
where other interventions such as road redesign are not feasible.

• It would not be a money grab.
The best cameras act as deterrents and
not to trick people into fines—few violations are a sign of success. The
bill directs the majority of revenues into road improvements, not general
funds. Cameras would be well-marked. Revenue-sharing with private
camera installation or operating companies would be prohibited, avoiding
inappropriate incentives.

• Photographs would be of rear license plates, no faces or identifying
information, and only if a violation has occurred.
Photos would be
permanently deleted after ruling. Fines, assessed to the owner of the
vehicle, would not exceed $50, won’t increase with additional violations,
nor add to insurance points. Law enforcement would need a court-approved
warrant to access photos for purposes beyond traffic enforcement.

• There would be state oversight, an appeals process, and common-sense
emergency exemptions.

Charlie Ticotsky is the policy director of Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA). Sign up for their email list & follow T4MASS on Twitter.
This article was featured in WalkBoston’s October 2017 newsletter.

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