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Speed Cameras Finally Allowed in Bay Area in New Pilot Program, Governor Signs MTC- and ABAG-Backed Bill

Peter Beeler

Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed MTC- and ABAG-backed AB 645, which authorizes San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose to pilot speed camera safety technology.

Cameras slow speeds by detecting and capturing images of vehicles traveling dangerously over the speed limit. Fines, which will be sent in the mail, range from $50 to $500 depending on speed. The system would be managed by a city’s transportation department.

Speed safety cameras are a common sense and low-cost approach to addressing what the Centers for Disease Control raises as a major health and safety issue. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, representing over one-third of all deaths. Eight teenagers die every day from traffic violence and hundreds more are injured. Seniors and young kids are also particularly vulnerable. So are people of color, particularly Native and Black Americans. Black pedestrians are twice as likely to die while walking than white Americans. And speeding is a major risk factor. 

Speed safety cameras are a proven technology with a track record of saving lives. A 2017 National Transportation Safety Board study found that speed safety cameras – which are in use in 150 communities across 16 different states – resulted in reduced speeding and the likelihood that a crash would involve a severe injury or fatality.

The pilot will run until Jan. 1, 2032. Glendale, Los Angeles, and Long Beach are the other cities that will get the cameras under the legislation, authored by Laura Friedman, D-Burbank and Phil Ting, D-San Francisco. Mia Bonta, D-Oakland, was a principal co-author along with Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco. Co-authors include assembly members Alex Lee, D-Milpitas, Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto; Matt Haney D-San Francisco; and Buffy Wicks, D-Berkeley.

MTC and ABAG support both the aim of AB 645 — to improve safety by piloting speed camera deployment in cities throughout California — and the steps the bill has taken to integrate privacy protections, equity considerations and guardrails around use of revenues. The program is aligned with MTC’s Vision Zero Action Plan, which acknowledges that “reducing speed is a fundamental aspect” of safety.

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