As soon as next year, drivers in Long Beach, Los Angeles and Glendale could be getting speeding tickets in the mail under a pilot speed-camera program that was signed into law Friday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Newsom put his signature to AB 645, which creates a pilot program allowing six California cities to install speed cameras in “high-accident” corridors, school zones or areas frequented by street racers.
“Slowing cars is imperative to saving lives,” the bill’s author, Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Burbank, said in a statement last month when the bill was approved by the Legislature.
She said deaths caused by speeding have been incorrectly labeled as “accidents” for too long, adding, “These deaths are preventable.”
California currently bans speed cameras, but under the new law, the pilot program will allow the six cities to install a limited number of cameras designed to photograph and generate speeding tickets that are then mailed to offenders. In addition to Los Angeles, Long Beach and Glendale, the pilot program will also be operated in Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose.
According to Friedman’s office, statistics from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health show that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for people under 30. Her office also said that 4,379 Californians died in traffic collisions in 2021, 1,275 of whom were pedestrians or bicyclists.
According to Friedman’s office, New York City saw a 73% reduction in speeding after introducing speed cameras.
Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson has supported testing speed cameras in his city, where 45 people died in traffic collisions last year.
Damian Kevitt, founder of the Los Angeles-based road-safety advocacy group Streets Are For Everyone, was a major backer of the legislation and hailed its approval.
“Reckless speeding has created a public health crisis on our roads,” Kevitt said in a statement Friday night. “While city and county officials go through the very slow and expensive process of reengineering streets to make them safer in the future, we need a way to protect our communities from traffic violence right now. AB 645 is part of that solution.”
According to Kevitt, tickets generated by the speed cameras would include fines beginning at $50, although the first ticket issued to a driver would only be a warning.
Cars going at least 11 miles over the posted speed limit would trigger a camera that photographs the rear license plate; a ticket with a fine would be sent to the car’s owner.
The legislation also includes a legal appeals process and avenues for low-income offenders to have the fines waived or reduced by up to 80%.
The law takes effect Jan. 1, but before any cameras are installed, city leaders need to draft a policy describing how they would be used, what data they could collect and how drivers’ data would be protected.
Cities must also launch a public information campaign at least a month in advance of the cameras being turned on, and signs warning of their location must be posted for at least 60 days after they’re activated.