San Francisco, San Jose may use automated speed enforcement cameras

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco and San Jose city officials joined forces Wednesday in calling for the state to allow the use of automated speed cameras to enforce speed limits and reduce traffic injuries and deaths.

Assemblymember David Chiu, D-San Francisco, announced Assembly Bill 342 to authorize a five-year pilot program allowing San Jose and San Francisco to install and test the cameras.

State law currently allows the use of automated cameras for red-light enforcement, but not for speed enforcement.

Speaking at San Francisco General Hospital, Chiu said 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.

Speed is the single biggest factor in predicting whether someone will survive a vehicle crash, Chiu said.

In Washington D.C., a city with similar density as San Francisco, has seen an 82 percent drop in speeding, resulting in a 70 percent reduction in fatalities.

"Slow down. We need to enforce that and make it a big deal and this will help," San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said.

At Wednesday's media briefing, families of traffic accident victims spoke in support of the bill.
Julie Mitchell's son died when he was run over by a garbage truck. "All hopes and dreams for his future were destroyed because of the crash that could have been prevented," Mitchell said.

Reaction from those ABC7 News spoke with on the streets was mixed as many compared them to red light cameras. "They were giving a lot of tickets when it wasn't 100 percent accurate so, I'm kind of iffy about it," San Francisco resident Benika Rayford said.

Some critics say it's just a money maker for cities, but Chiu says no.

In San Francisco, an average of 30 people are killed every year and 500 more hospitalized because of traffic crashes. In San Jose, between 40 and 60 have been killed annually in recent years and around 150 were severely injured. "We know how to fix this problem," Chiu said. "It is time we took this important step to put an end to these senseless traffic fatalities."

San Francisco and San Jose have both adopted Vision Zero policies, calling for traffic fatalities to be reduced to zero by the year 2024.
While San Francisco has made use of traffic engineering programs and driver education and enforcement campaigns, Lee said the city still spends $35 million a year responding to traffic crashes. "In San Francisco, we want communities where people can safely work, shop, play and live," Lee said. "For that to happen, we need to enforce speed limits on our city streets."

San Jose previously operated an automated speed enforcement camera program from 1996 to 2007, but suspended the program in the face of legal challenges and a lack of support from state legislators. "How ironic, that here in the heart of Silicon Valley, the law does not allow us to use this critical technology," Mayor Sam Liccardo said.

Chiu's legislation would allow the cameras to be used only on streets where collisions have occurred leading to injuries and deaths. Drivers traveling more than 10 mph over the speed limit will receive a $100 fine, to be sent by mail to the registered owner of the vehicle.

The bill has the backing of other local legislators including state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, and Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco.

Bay City News contributed to this story.
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