Automated Enforcement of Speed Limits

Automated enforcement of speed limits and red lights could substantially reduce accidents.  So far, we have not been willing to use the new technology in Massachusetts.  To improve safety, I hope we can build support to experiment with automated enforcement in a thoughtful and transparent way.

The technology to recognize license plates is now quite reliable.   The barriers to using plate readers for enforcement of basic traffic laws are not technological.

Nor are the barriers financial.  Appropriately placed automated enforcement tools could easily pay for themselves.

The barriers are legal and political.  Implementation of automated enforcement requires state legislation to define a new procedure for attaching fines to violations.  The legal problem is that, in the absence of an officer pulling someone over, it is impossible to know who was driving the vehicle.  So, we would have to hold the vehicle owner responsible, but there is no currently mechanism to do that for moving violations.

The necessary legislative action has not been forthcoming.  The issue has been kicking around the legislature for a decade.

Most of us are accustomed to making personal decisions about whether or not we can or should attempt to get away with a close push on a red light or a speed five or ten miles per hour above the speed limit.  The fact is that police resources are very limited and millions of traffic violations go undetected or ignored every day on the roads of the Commonwealth.

Many of the laws we have in place are not consistent with driver behavior and the lack of enforcement is what keeps people from rebelling.  For example, the new 25 mph limit in densely settled areas is slower than most drivers tend to go on many urban roads.  I support the lower limit because the safety benefits of lower speeds are huge – accidents are less frequent and less severe.  But I’m conscious that on many urban roads, most drivers will continue to go 40.

If municipalities had the authority to implement automated enforcement, there is a concern that they might use it to create revenue-producing speed traps, or through a clumsy roll-out end up issuing tickets to thousands of people, provoking a backlash (as recently occurred in Providence).

In addition to the legitimate reservations that some legislators may have about over-enforcement, privacy advocates are concerned about the expansion of cameras and the accumulation of data about the movement of drivers.  This is indeed a legitimate concern, but it is one that can be addressed by clear rules and automatic deletion of  records not needed for the prosecution of particular violations.

People concerned about over-enforcement and the “big brother” accumulation of data often also raise questions about how effective the tools are in changing behavior.  In my mind, the effectiveness depends on practical decisions made in the roll-out.  Where are the cameras placed?  To what extent do drivers have advance warning?  It seems beyond reasonable dispute that a good implementation with fair enforcement goals could change behavior in positive ways.

We included authorization for local use of automated enforcement by municipalities in the Act to Reduce Traffic Fatalities — an omnibus traffic safety bill that a group of safety advocates developed.  The proposal attempts to address many of the privacy and fairness concerns that have been raised. The larger bill is still moving, but without the controversial red light provisions.

I do intend to continue to pursue the issue of automated enforcement, but I recognize that it needs a broad discussion and we cannot do it without broad popular support.  Your thoughts much appreciated.  I would especially appreciate thoughts on how to target automated enforcement and how to make it work fairly.

Automated Enforcement in the Act to Reduce Traffic Fatalities

Section 22 of  the act defines the enforcement proposal. The key features are:

  • A municipality could not use the tool until it obtains approval from its town meeting or city council.
  • Automated enforcement could be used for a speeding violation over 5 mph above the limit, failure to stop at a red light, failure to stop for by a stopped school bus or an illegal turn on red.
  • Limitation to one fixed camera per 2500 residents in a town, provided that cameras installed at the 200 most dangerous intersections in the Commonwealth would not count against that.
  • Photographic images may only be captured of the rear of the vehicle, to protect the privacy of the occupants of the vehicle.
  • Signage must notify drivers of the presence of the road safety camera and there must be a public awareness campaign beginning at least 30 days before the enforcement program begins.
  • The maximum penalty shall not be over $50 and it shall be a civil penalty assessed on the owner, but shall not count for insurance purposes.
  • Enforcement notices should be sent by first class mail to the owner and may be contested.
  • No liability will attach if the vehicle was stolen or rented or if the operator gets separately stopped and ticketed by the police or if the violation was necessary to allow an emergency vehicle to pass, etc
  • Compensation to the suppliers of the equipment cannot be based on the volume of revenue the equipment generates.
  • No less than 80% of the proceeds of the ticketing must be devoted to road improvements.
  • All records from the enforcement system shall be destroyed within 48 ours of final disposition of any recorded event and will not be used or shared for any other purpose.

Resources

Informal Poll Result

800 subscribers to my news list (subscribe here) responded to the following poll (with question order rotated).

Which statement best summarizes your views about automatic traffic enforcement:

I’m really concerned about the invasion of privacy and the possibility of over enforcement of traffic laws with cameras.  I don’t want “big brother” watching my every move.

OR

We need to stop the carnage on the roadways.  Too many people drive way too fast.  If automatic enforcement will mean better driver behavior, I’m all for it.

OR

I’m not sure.  The devil is in the details.  I don’t want to vote.  I’d prefer to consider and discuss the issue.

The responses broke down as follows: No/privacy, 38%; Yes/safety, 31%; Maybe/details, 31%.

We can’t get too far ahead of the public on enforcement matters: Automated enforcement is a tool that we need to use with great caution and concern for fairness.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

Join the Conversation

193 Comments

  1. Speed cameras now – the more the better. And a full ban on any hand held device by drivers.

  2. I am all for this. I view it as a simple way to slow down the majority of automobile drivers on our states roadways. It will save bicyclist and pedestrian lives. Nothing is more important than this. thanks Mr. Brownsberger

  3. I strongly favor the use of speed cameras. Because the traffic laws are traditionally not enforced, ample public notice should be given, and the first violation should perhaps be forgiven, but after that, the cameras should be on all the time, and the fines should be stiff and should be collected.

  4. I’d suggest a lower maximum fine. People respond to the certainty of having to pay more than the magnitude of it. This is why, when the Tobin Bridge tolled in only one direction, 1/3 fewer cars drove that direction daily (that’s ~18,000 cars a day!). All to avoid the certainty of paying… $2.50

    If automated cameras catch a person every time, and if the first-class mailed ticket arrives in a few days, people will change their behavior, even if the max fine is $20.

    Regarding record keeping: Please find a way to maintain privacy while making behavioral data available to legislators, researchers, etc. Anonymized data can tell us, over time, whether the cameras are doing their job (i.e., are fewer people speeding at location x; how many tickets are going to repeat offenders, etc. There are ways to do this, and having information about effectiveness is valuable.

    Thanks for all you do Senator!

  5. I don’t trust the police dept. to use the cameras appropriately. There should be warning sign wherever there is a camera if the goal is traffic safety. I would insist on that.

  6. I am car-free and so I walk or use public transportation both of which give me the (dis)advantage of seeing an inordinate number of drivers running red lights, passing on the passenger side of cars stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, making turns where there is a sign no-turn sign etc.

  7. As a pedestrian in Boston I see so many people cruise thru red lights. I would be happy to see this curtailed via the use of cameras in the city intersections.

  8. Will,

    As a case that won’t affect insurance rates, I think the privacy issue is less of a concern. The non-enforcement on rentals may be problematic; what about fleet cars, ZipCars, or leased vehicles, all of which are registered to corporations? I guess the devil is always in the details.

  9. Speed camera do not improve safety and is just another revenue grab / disguised tax. Furthermore, a large portion of the revenues drains out of the local economy to out of state companies that setup speed camera traps. Just look up the articles about the recent speed cameras in Providence, instituting speed cameras will also jam up the overburdened court system as well.

    How about requiring registration of bikes with plates and enforcing laws against bikes who flout the laws and are a danger to pedestrians and drivers.

    1. Even as a cyclist, I do support enforcing traffic laws against misbehaving cyclists. The real problem is that we don’t have the resources to do it. We can’t even enforce against cars which is the argument for use of automation.

  10. Thank you for addressing this important topic. I very much support camera enforcement and raised this very topic Thursday night at a meeting of Belmont’s Traffic Advisory Committee. Drivers do not obey speed limits and put lives at risk. I have seen cars RACING down Park, Marsh, Winter, Concord (all directions), and Mill streets. Residents along the Trapelo Road corridor suffer as well.

    My husband and children use bicycles to commute from home to school, work, or after-school events. Several of my family members have been hit by cars while riding their bikes, some suffering serious injury. It is a miracle no one has been killed! Belmont does not have the money to hire additional traffic enforcement officers, and they cannot be everywhere at once regardless. (In any event, enforcing speed limits does not seem to be a high priority for the Belmont police department.) If we want to create a society that is safe for both walkers and cyclists, this is an important tool in our overall set of options.

  11. I’m all for camera enforcement with a few citizen safeguards:

    1. Set 10 miles above speed limit
    2. Issue only a warning for first violation in a particular location
    3. Post signage in general area where camera enforcement is used

  12. In 2015, 36,000 people in the US were killed in traffic crashes.
    https://www.cdc.gov/injury/images/lc-charts/leading_causes_of_injury_deaths_unintentional_injury_2015_1050w760h.gif

    Our vehicle fatality rate is 40% higher than Canada or Australia. In 1990 Slovenia had a death rate more than 4 times the US – now they have safer roads.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/19/opinion/america-is-now-an-outlier-on-driving-deaths.html

    So yes, please do allow the use of red light cameras. Don’t want a ticket? Don’t enter the intersection when the light is yellow.

    Yes, please have more automated enforcement of speed limits. We can start with the Mass Pike, where the hardware and technology are already in place.

    You are worried about “big brother”? I am worried about people dying.

    1. Harry, perhaps you should read the proposal more closely, it’s for speed cameras, not red-light cameras. Also note that wherever red light cameras have been implemented rear-end collisions have risen significantly, obviating any benefits.

      Regarding the comparison to other countries, it also might be helpful remember that in 1990 Solvenia was a Soviet satellite state just emerging into independence. Isn’t it likely that traffic fatalities were more influenced by the adoption of western style automotive technology (like seat belts?), resulting in the significant decrease in fatalities – simply getting Ladas and Skodas off the road would probably account for most of the improved safety.

      Regarding your assertion that our fatally rate is significantly higher than Canada or Australia, the NYTimes article you site is (a) wrong (it compared apples to oranges and did not use the standard measure of MVMD, and the Solvenians do not have a lower death rate) and (b) highly subjective. It should also be noted that this is an OP-Ed piece, NOT news. I tried to find the data on the OECD site, but cannot, so please see

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate

      Look at the “road Fatalities per KM driven” column – that’s the only figure that’s not affected by population size and thus the only figure that really gives you a true comparison figure.

      Canada does about 12% (not 40% as the article states) better than the US, but this figure fluctuates from year to year and most experts will tell you that the figures net out to about the seam. Pretty impressive given that the US has 10 times the population as Canada and offers a much more diverse set of driving landscapes.

      Australia, comes in at 5.2, somewhat better than the US, and again, it’s important to remember the differences. This is a country the size of the US with a population less than 10 the of the US. And they drive on the other side of the road. Oh yes, and they have higher speed limits.

      Solvenia, BTW comes in at a not-very-impressive 7.6, verses the US’s 7.1. Personally, I would draw the obvious conclusion that all things being equal, Slovenia’s use of traffic cameras accounts for the increased traffic fatalities.

      If we want safer roads, it starts with safer drivers. Germany is the “gold standard” at 4.9. It takes upwards of $2,000, a minimum of 25-45 hours of professional instruction plus 12 hours of theory. Compare to the (mostly optional) drivers Ed in the US and the paltry fee for a license and remember that if you don’t use a seatbelt (1 out of 7 of us don’t) you’re simply asking to become a statics (and before you go claiming that seat belt fines should be higher, remember that Germany does quite well with a 30 Euro fine)

      1. >> If we want safer roads, it starts with safer drivers

        OK. Enforcing traffic laws about speeding and running red lights will encourage people to drive more safely.

        1. @Harry: I disagree, it starts with better education and stricter licensing. In Germany, for instance, a license to drive will cost you over $2000, after a minimum of 25-45 hours of professional instruction plus 12 hours of theory. Here’ you simply go to the registry, plunk down your fee, show you know how to parallel park and you’re golden.

          Here are the steps to real safety:
          1. Invest in driver education … and MAKE IT EXPENSIVE AND PROFESSIONAL
          2. Invest in infrastructure to facilitate real driver testing…and MAKE IT EXPENSIVE AND PROFESSIONAL
          3. Invest in infrastructure to test real automotive safety (not just the ODBC test we do for emissions)
          4. Invest in infrastructure – clean up the roads – fix the potholes
          5. Follow the rules in the MUTCD (https://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/) regarding red/yellow light timing

          If you do all that you could lower the accident rate significantly. But lets face it, there’s no politician who’s willing to get behind this. Raising the cost of driver licensing is political suicide. Infrastructure bills never pass. Most of them feel it’s far better to pander to “feel good” legislation like automated enforcement. They would much rather be seen to address the symptom, rather than treat the cause of traffic safety issues.

  13. This is a tough one. Brighton, because of the horror of development run amok without transportation planning, and major development burying a once thriving community, without planning how to move people around to get to where they need to go, with no T, poor buses, and no sidewalks it makes people crazy, stressed and therefore poor drivers desperate to get home and reach their appointments in the congestion of a bunch of fools downtown who don’t live in our neighborhood and don’t seem to care how we get to where we need to go. Out of town developers, looking to mke a buck off the hysteria of needing to house only those who can afford high rents for short term apartments. More cars to match the high end transients will just keep congesting our poor roads, pot holes and narrow streets.
    Bad driving has much to do with frustration.
    Now big brother will monitor those bad behaviors rather than changing the mindset of how we drive. Or how we originally designed a way to use the roads.
    When I lived in other citites, this was never the issue. Better infratstructure for transportation as well as courtesy were the main factors. So now we will monitor the criminals of our own minds through cameras? Hmmmmm… Not sure about how that will teach us to stop using our middle finger.

  14. A. Speed cameras don’t work if safety is your goal. They simply do not enhance safety, Look at England (the same GATSO people you reference in “resources”). There has been no perceptible improvement in highway or byway safety as a result of massive, intrusive rollout of a nearly country-wide network of cameras. https://io9.gizmodo.com/why-speed-cameras-dont-work-as-well-as-we-think-they-d-1521969526

    B. If your true goal is to raise money, THEY ARE GREAT! Yep, all you need to do is underpost the speed limit, set up a camera and watch the bucks roll in. It’s also great money for the company that sells the speed cameras! WIN-WIN-LOSE (guess who’s the loser in this equation? Hint, it’s us!)

    Besides the legal challenges (how do you preserve the right to cross examine a speed camera?) the inaccuracy issues (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/unmanned-speed-cams-under-fire-for-accuracy-problems/) and the plain opportunity for graft on the part of the camera companies (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-rahm-emanuel-red-light-tickets-lawsuit-settlement-met-20170720-story.html), this opens a Pandora’s box of issue.

    There is a reason why cities have banned the use of speed cameras… Why invite more danger into our communities?

    Honestly, are we not done with this fallacy at this point? Red light cameras don’t work, speed cameras don’t work, can we not focus instead on really making the roads safer through:

    A) Better education and stricter licensing requirements
    B) Better roads (Hello Belmont — how about fixing some potholes once in a while?)
    C) Rollout of technology such as auto braking
    D) Better road safety checks for vehicles

    Instead of looking for “quick fix” “knee jerk” solutions. For once, let’s try to “solve” a problem by doing the hard work it demands. (I know, that’s not the way government works…sigh…)
    ———————————
    resources (available to https://www.motorists.org/issues/speed-cameras/articles/)
    Arizona Freeway Speed Cameras
    This article describes some of the injustices created by the speed cameras installed on an Arizona freeway.

    BBC Speed Camera Crash Video Uncovered
    This article highlights a British Broadcasting Corporation News broadcast that shows speed cameras causing crashes.

    Majority Of Speed Camera Photos In Arizona Are Unusable
    The Arizona Republic did an analysis of the speed camera program and concluded that the majority of photos had to be thrown out.

    How To Give Out 178,000 Traffic Tickets And Accomplish Nothing
    This article explains how Montgomery County, Maryland’s speed camera program only resulted in a 4 MPH drop in traffic speeds despite 178,000 tickets being given out.

    States And Cities That Have Banned Ticket Cameras
    The list of states and cities where red light cameras or speed cameras are prohibited under state law.

    How One D.C. Newspaper Editorial Board Views Speed Cameras
    Washington Times editorial on D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s proposal to fill a $172 million budget gap by installing additional speed cameras.

  15. I agree it is an invasion of privacy.
    It seems that there are mutiple efforts to change the way we live.
    So tired of it all.
    If they ticketed everyone that exceeded the speed. Limit by 5 mph everyone would be ticketed every day.

    1. I am in favor of cameras, which might bring in a tidy sum, if they were to catch multi driving violations such as NOT stopping,passing on right,using hand held techs,assisting Police when pulled over &etc. It is an AID to safety!

  16. Youre a thinker, who is much appreciated. What about a feeler; what are you feeling about? Helping with mental heath issues?

  17. I general I’m in favor of anything that is designed to improve safety of pedestrians and cyclists on the road. However, any legislation must include stipulations about making sure that speed limits within the camera zone are all the same speed and well marked.

  18. In general I’m against automated enforcement. Not so much on privacy concerns, but more on concerns that this would become a way for the state to generate a large anmount of revenue. Perhaps if you could share thoughts on how this could be implemented. The fines and the resulting insurance premium increases could really hurt Massachusetts families if what happened in Providence happens here. Also, let’s explore ways to make sure cyclists and pedestrians are in compliance with laws. A lack of enforcement on those modes of transportation, when combined with motorists not complying with laws, creates many dangerous situations every day.

  19. Use of cameras for traffic enforcement doesn’t strike me as a an invasion of privacy issue – driving an automobile is inherently public activity for both driver and passenger(s). Would also suspend or revoke licenses of frequently cited drivers.

  20. I don’t understand the argument about invasion of privacy when many, many people tell everything on social media. All this proposal does is help enforce the law – and about time.

  21. I think that it would itself be an educational tool that would alert drivers to the fact that the speed limit is the speed limit. 60 percent of drivers on Mt Auburn St seem to drive above the limit. I would not put a whole lot of signs around town informing of cameras; we have way to much stuff for drivers to look at.
    ( Also, I would do this along with making it illegal for drivers to hold a phone to ear while driving.)

  22. While you are at it, may we please have some consideration of ways to make bicyclists also obey the laws including licensing. Pedestrians are constantly at risk from bicycles running red lights AND riding in banned areas. Please more rights for us walkers.

    1. It is patent nonsense to claim that pedestrians are at constant risk from bicyclists. Ped are at constant risk from motorists. Cars weigh over 3500 lbs and travel 30 mph on average on local streets while bicyclists with bike weigh less than 200 and avg 15 mph or less. Licensing would accomplish nothing. There are two ways to improve bicyclists behavior that have been proven in many cities: build more bicycle infrastructure and have more enforcement. Most bad bicycle behavior is because they are trying to stay out of the way of dangerous car drivers. I have no objection to police ticketing more bicyclists for unsafe behavior. (I do not own a car and mostly get around by bicycle at age 64.)

      1. So you would be ok with a bike colliding into you at 15mph? You might not die but I’m willing to be money that you’ll have a broken bone or two. Bikes are a menace without any accountantability and they pay $0 into the system. Bikes can easily hit pedestrians and ride off. Where is the accountability there? They should pay for registration plates and fees

  23. We should start with the MassPike. You pay normal toll if, on average between toll gates, you go the speed limit. For every mile per hour you average above the 65 mph speed limit, you pay an extra 10%–up to 75 mph. For every mile per hour between 75 and 80 you pay a $10 fine. (I.e, if you average 77, you play double the toll plus $20.) Over 80, there’s a criminal charge.
    This would comport with how people actually perceive the law. Stretching it a little is no big deal, but we’re serious enough about it to disincentivize it. But, at some point–80 mph–it’s very serious, maybe even a minor criminal violation.
    All this could dovetail nicely with the insurance surcharge system.
    I also have no problem with cameras to stop people from running red lights.

  24. Sen. Brownsberger,

    While red light cameras might be good for certain intersections, and especially on school buses, any implementation would have to be done with a longitudinal study to determine if the cameras are having a positive effect (fewer overall crashes, fewer injuries, fewer red light run) and are not contributing to more rear-end crashes.

    As for speed cameras, the research seems quite mixed on whether they are actually effective or not, especially when taken in the context of the speed limit for the road and traffic flow. There is some research showing that those driving 10mph below the limit are more likely to be involved in an accident than someone driving 10mph over the limit. Again, there might be some areas where this could work, but I would need more data. Like with red light cameras, a longitudinal study should be required to gauge the effectiveness of the cameras on not only speeding, but also accident incidence and severity.

    Will there be exceptions allowed for emergent situations not involving an emergency vehicle (e.g., speeding to avoid being rear-ended)? Will automated tickets affect insurance rates/points? Given the lack of verification of the operator, I could see this unfairly affecting parents’ driving records for insurance purposes.

    What other methods of traffic speed management are being considered? Variable speed limits? New vehicle-borne technologies?

  25. Just another way to raise revenue no matter how it is phrased. Big investment…small return with court costs for hearings on legality, validating info, synching
    lights monthly with cameras,

  26. We need cameras, but, in my view, as a last resort. We have too many streets in Boston where crashes and injuries and deaths are way too prevalent. We have a driving culture that is infamous for reckless driving and ignoring the laws. We do have tools to ameliorate the problem, but traffic enforcement by the police, for one, is always second to other priorities, and the BTD, for some reason, won’t use the 20 mph “Safety zone” designation that is now allowed. The Boston driving culture needs to be changed, but no city official wants to take that on directly. So unless the City gets more serious about reducing “the carnage” with the tools they have, cameras are the fallback. In areas where enforcement is known, we all drive more carefully.

  27. Cambridge and Belmont(and Boston?) have recently lowered their overall speed limits to 25. Why are they not posted anywhere? At least do it where you cross city limits.

  28. I would not favor totally automated enforcement, but might support some human review of violations only. I am less concerned about the privacy issue. If I Amon a public street or highway there shouldn’t be an assumption of privacy. I just have reservations about anyautomated scanning process making decisions. Of course, if the laws made sense to people there might be less law breaking

  29. I would support limited use in certain areas only. There definitely is a privacy issue and the tapes must be erased ASAP.
    As a pedestrian I could see a use in the Watertown Sq area. I have seen 4 or 5 cars at a time running the same red light. That’s really disrespecting the rules of the road. Yeah, I can understand one car running a light because it’s always a judgement call. But 4 or 5? No! Needs to be stopped.

  30. I am generally in favor of automating the issuing of tickets to drivers who speed, drivers who run red lights, and drivers who fail to stop their vehicles from entering pedestrian crossing lanes. (And if it were possible, I’d add drivers who tailgate.) I think all the stipulated provisos are good and should be part of the bill.

    There’s one point I’d add. Exceeding the posted speed limit by a few mph is very different from exceeding it by 10 or 15 mph. The tickets should only be issued to drivers who ‘substantially’ exceed the limit. And I’d leave it to the good judgment of the citizens of each municipality to decide what constitutes a substantial violation for the area in question. (Tighter enforcement would be warranted, for example, in school zones or in areas with high numbers of elderly or deaf people.) There should always be some leeway given that speedometers and detectors vary in accuracy. But drivers will be more apt to exercise care if the amount of leeway varies from place to place.

    Finally, please let the fines be tiered, so that those who drive truly recklessly (as by travelling double the speed limit, weaving in and out of lanes) are not treated the same as someone who, perhaps, has gone a bit faster than she intended while acclimating to an unfamilar rental vehicle with a ‘jumpy’ accelerator.

  31. I think I favor these cameras because of their potential for reducing speeding. However, I have personal experience with being misidentified by the camera and the system and issued a ticket. This was for jumping a toll booth on the Ted Williams Tunnel at 1:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning. It stated that I was driving a black VW but I drive a Honda. I contested the ticket, stating that I had never been in that tunnel, and that at 67 I was not accustomed to being out at 1:30 a.m., and that my car is a Honda not a VW. The appeal was upheld and the ticket forgiven, but about a year later I got another ticket for the same offense on the same date and time. I referred to the previous documents and was again upheld. These obvious kinks in the system are potentially a huge problem.

  32. I am in favor of cameras, which might bring in a tidy sum, if they were to catch multi driving violations such as NOT stopping,passing on right,using hand held techs,assisting Police when pulled over &etc. It is an AID to safety!

  33. This type of technology has been widely used in other cities of comparable size for well over a decade. It’s absurd that Boston is still weighing the benefits of automated monitoring of traffic. You cannot claim privacy concerns when you are utilizing a public good and space. Implement this technology in known speed corridors, watch the involuntary donations poor in, and speed decrease. Hold people accountable for their bad behavior, end of story.

  34. I hit the “needs more discussion” option on your survey. For instance, I think Bruce Sesnovich in his response below makes some very good points about different ways to assess speeding violations, and applying those assessments to the appropriate locations. There are places where going 5 MPH over the speed limit is really not dangerous. Very few people can maintain a constant speed on any road, and +/– 5 mph is not uncommon and shouldn’t be ticketed. Other places, such as near schools, it is not acceptable. The police should be able to help with these assessments depending on how they choose to ticket on different roads.

    I also worry that posting camera notices will cause people to slam on their brakes when they see the signs, causing more issues and traffic backups. Especially if ticketing is not flexible.

    Finally, I am glad that 80% are singled out, but when are we going to use proceeds from road use to improve public transportation? Boston will never be a “world-class” city until we have a “world-class” public transportation system.

  35. Cost savings and unbiased enforcement ( As long as the cameras are distributed equally across neighbourhoods ) both seem to be advantages to using cameras. My Son Ryan went to school in Colorado, it works there.

  36. How long since Trapelo road was up and running, and we still don’t have the lights all synced (Beaver Brook area). How exactly are you going to enforce cameras on lights?

    I think we already have cameras in place, or at least it looks like they’re up. Just do it right.

  37. Driving is Not a right. It is a Privilege — a privilege bestowed by the Commonwealth. The very fact that no one is ‘permitted’ to drive without a state-issued driver’s license makes that plain. Proceeding from this understanding, there should be no question about the appropriateness of the use of cameras to enforce compliance with traffic laws.

    The proposed legislation leans way over, far too far over, to accommodate those who approach the matter from the presumption of a Right to drive.

  38. I support the thoughtful approach that has been outlined here. As long as precautions are taken to safeguard privacy, I see no problem with sending fines to the owner of the vehicle. They are ultimately responsible for whomever is behind the wheel. We need the end the culture of accepting 10mph over the speed limit. The limit should be the limit, period. We need to stop being so selfish, letting automobiles be an extension of our egos, and an expression of our personal “freedom.” I worry more about cameras in the public realm being used to record people on foot or on bike, who are more identifiable. If you are driving a motor vehicle capable of killing people, it makes sense that there should be conditions attached. But people who pose no inherent danger to the public should not be surveilled.

    1. Don’t worry; if history is a teacher, first they come for drivers, then they’ll come for pedestrians too. BTW, cyclists are out of control (and their minds) in MA. They must be ticketed for all those crazy stuff they pull on the road.

  39. I’d also like to see people get ticketed for running red lights. That’s so dangerous.

  40. My concern is much less about speed than about other traffic crimes: failing to stop completely at stop signs, running red lights, failing to stop behind the painted lines delineating intersections, failing to signal turns and changes of lane, and, above all, driving whilst distracted by cell phones. I would very much welcome cameras to monitor such infractions. Speed is a minor concern in comparison.

  41. The camera becomes the judge and jury. Removing the human element of judgement, should it be a warning or a ticket.

  42. Boston Police do a great job, but given limited resources and urban crime issues, do not have the time or resources to focus on traffic
    rule enforcement.
    The fact that there is little
    accountability for unsafe driving practices has
    put pedestrians at greater and greater risk.
    Running red lights and turning right on red when pedestrians have the walk sign have all
    made streets in the Back Bay far less safe.
    At a community meeting after another
    accident on Beacon Street two years ago,
    several officers came out in favor of cameras
    as a quick way to train the public.

  43. Cameras Have always been fine with me. There are so many tragic accidents caused by speeding, and because, as we know, money talks, I think cameras used to fine folks who speed will slow them down and save lives.
    You may have read about the awful accident last week in Brooklyn where a woman ran a red light, killed two children and severely injured the mother of one of them — in front of horrified bystanders. This was probably not her first infraction. What a terrible tragedy.

    1. Indeed, in the Brooklyn case the driver had a long record of driving offenses and probably should not have been driving. The fact that there are many people driving who probably should not have a license is also something to examine when considering the problem of traffic safety.

  44. so it is all about slowing down traffic, not catching people and raising money through tickets. Let the cameras be on for 2-4 weeks, sending out summons. Then when everyone knows the jig is up, start ticketing.

  45. Running a red light and impacting another motorist who is legally going through the intersection on the green can cause as much damage as shooting someone. We are way too lax with enforcement. Traffic would move faster if everyone going through a green light at any time would feel safe.

  46. Thanks, Will,
    This is a knotty problem, reducing dangerous moving violations – but I would support cameras as one part of the solution to safer streets for all users, pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles. I’d trust you to do this with care and avoid the outrage that occurred in Providence.

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