SACRAMENTO — Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) has announced Assembly Bill 2336, which aims to significantly reduce traffic fatalities in the State of California by authorizing cities to use a proven tool to cut down on speeding: speed safety cameras.
AB 2336 creates a five year pilot program authorizing the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and two unspecified cities to use speed cameras to enforce speed limits on their highest injury streets, in school zones, and on streets with a history of speed contests and motor vehicle exhibitions of speed. Joining Friedman on the bill is Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco).
“Safety is my number one priority as Chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee,” said Assemblymember Laura Friedman. “Around the world, speed safety cameras have been proven to reduce fatalities on roadways by as much as 71%. It’s time for California to answer the Biden Administration’s call to implement proven strategies to save lives by authorizing cities to use speed safety cameras while directing the revenue towards building safer streets.”
Traffic collisions take tens of thousands of lives in the United States every year. The National Safety Council estimates 42,000 Americans lost their lives to traffic collisions in 2020, the single highest year-over-year jump in 96 years. Initial estimates show fatalities are likely to increase in 2021. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, speeding is a factor in 31% of all traffic fatalities.
The Biden Administration recently released the National Roadway Safety Strategy, with the core of that strategy to be a department-wide adoption of the Safe Systems Approach focusing on five key objectives: safer people, safer roads, safer speeds, and post-crash care. This bill adopts several of those strategies, including the use of speed safety cameras, while also directing revenue towards safer roads to slow cars down. AB 43 (Friedman), signed into law last year, already adopts one of these strategies by giving more flexibility to cities to set safe, not crowdsourced, speed limits.
Slowing cars down saves lives. The faster a vehicle goes, the chances of survival in a car crash decreases tremendously, especially for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, bicyclists, seniors and children. According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a person struck by a vehicle going 20 miles per hour (mph) has a 5 percent chance of dying. That number goes up to 40% for vehicles going 30 mph, and 80% for vehicles going 40 mph.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, speed cameras can reduce crashes on streets by 54%. In New York City, speed cameras reduced speeding in school zones up to 63%.
“My city of San Francisco is committed to reducing traffic fatalities to zero,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). “More than 70% of our city’s fatalities occur on just 12% of our streets. AB 2336 will provide San Francisco with a proven tool to reduce fatalities and ensure there are no further lives lost due to reckless driving.”
"Over the past year in San José, we've seen an alarming rise in traffic fatalities - with speeding often being the cause. The staggering loss of life we see on our streets is a preventable tragedy," said San José Mayor Sam Liccardo. "I applaud Assemblymember Laura Friedman's common-sense bill to allow cities like ours to deploy speed safety cameras to save lives and keep our streets safe."
"Managing vehicle speeds is matter of urgency for San Francisco—especially in our low-income communities of color, whose streets experience most of the severe and fatal traffic crashes in San Francisco,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “Assembly Bill 2336 (Friedman) would give San Francisco the authority to implement and use speed safety cameras as a tool for unbiased enforcement of safer speeds. We need every tool available to us to get to make our streets safer so we can save lives."
AB 2336 is designed with equity and privacy in mind. Unlike a traditional speeding ticket, which carries a minimum fine of $238, fines in AB 2336 start at $50 for going 11 mph over the speed limit. Those living under the poverty line must be offered either an 80% reduction in that fine or community service, as well as a payment plan capped at $25 a month. Families of four making less than $54,000 a year must be offered a 50% reduction in fines. Cities are required to work with advocacy groups representing disadvantaged communities on the placement of the cameras. Cameras can only take pictures of a person’s license plate, and the pictures have to be destroyed 60 days after the final disposition of the violation.
“Speeding is among the top causes of traffic deaths on Oakland’s streets, and these deaths are preventable,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “Oakland is delivering more traffic safety projects than ever before, but we can do more. Speed safety cameras are an effective and critical tool to complement our holistic Safe Oakland Streets initiative and prevent traffic deaths with a focus on advancing equity. I commend Assembly Transportation Chair Laura Friedman for leading this charge and look forward to partnering on a successful bill this year.”
AB 2336 protects residents from cameras being placed in areas to generate revenue. Under the five year pilot program if the cameras are not reducing speeding violations by 25% within the first 18 months, a speed feedback sign has to be installed and a city has to starting planning construction of traffic calming measures to slow cars down. If construction has not begun in two years the cities can no longer use the camera at that location.
Revenues generated by the tickets have to be used to administer the program and pay for traffic calming measures across the city to make streets safer. Cities are prohibited from using the revenue to backfill existing expenditures on traffic calming measures, and if the city does not spend the money on engineering solutions within three years, the remaining revenue must be sent to the state for the Active Transportation Program to give other cities a change to build projects to enhance pedestrian and cyclist safety.
Laura Friedman represents the 43rd Assembly District which encompasses the cities of Burbank, Glendale, and La Cañada Flintridge, as well as the communities of La Crescenta and Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, Beachwood Canyon, Los Feliz, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, and Silver Lake