by Anthony Hennen
State lawmakers must act soon before a trio of authorizations expire for traffic cameras that capture drivers violating traffic laws.
Provisions will soon kick in that would put an end to speed cameras in active work zones; camera-equipped school buses that ticket drivers who fail to yield to a stop sign; and speed cameras along Philadelphia’s Roosevelt Boulevard — one of the commonwealth’s most dangerous roads.
The authorizations, which came from Act 86 of 2018 and Act 158 of 2018, were attached to a five-year sunset. The school bus camera law will expire October 24, speed cameras on Roosevelt Boulevard will expire December 18, and speed cameras in active work zones will expire on Feb. 16, 2024.
“Time is of the essence; we’re less than a month from one of these sunsetting,” Sen. Wayne Langerholc, R-Clearfield, said during a Senate Transportation Committee hearing on Monday. “We need to move something to get this done so that these programs do not expire.”
PennDOT Secretary Michael Carroll argued the laws have made Pennsylvania’s roads safer in recent years.
“The essence of today, as I view it, is protection of vulnerable highway users,” Carroll said. “The data suggests that we have made a difference.”
In an ideal world, he said, no citations would get issued, but their use is a necessity.
“The goal, of course, from the department’s perspective, is that no motorist get a citation or violation from any of these programs that exist,” Carroll said. “Sadly, there have been too many instances of drivers making poor decisions with respect to the treatment (of construction workers, schoolchildren, cyclists, and pedestrians).”
Local officials also emphasized the importance of the cameras along Roosevelt Boulevard.
Speaking on behalf of outgoing Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, Deputy Managing Director for Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability Mike Carroll said the administration would like to see an extension and expansion of the speed camera program.
“Automated speed enforcement works — it saves lives every day on Roosevelt Boulevard,” Mike Carroll said. “We’ve seen incredible benefits from enforcement. Roosevelt Boulevard saw 21% fewer fatal injuries and 64% fewer pedestrian crashes. Violations fell by 95%.”
While supportive of the safety push, State Sen. Rosemary Brown, R-Scotrun, noted that citizens have complained of little notice and issues with getting a warning before getting cited for a violation.
“Our roadways do need a lot of improvement and the driver needs to be reminded of their responsibility,” Brown said. “I want to make public record on some of the administrative places we might need to tighten up.”
She noted the need for better placement of signs to alert drivers of a work zone (and enforcement) to allow them to slow down, as well as ensuring that flashing lights indicating a work zone are properly working.
Brown was also concerned about the window for appealing a ticket being too short, and citations arriving in the mail the same day as a warning.
Carroll noted that PennDOT will consider those issues.
“We are already down the path of new signs that would be more visible, that would employ fluorescent lime-green with an orange bar at the top, just to try to have a more unique sign to alert motorists of the presence of the cameras,” Secretary Carroll said.
Pennsylvania has seen a spike in distracted driving deaths since the pandemic, as The Center Square previously reported, along with a 9 percent increase in road fatalities from 2020 to 2021.
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