California’s Governor Gavin Newsom passed a new law this past weekend that will legalize speed cameras in six different large cities in the state. This marks the first time in California’s history in which speed cameras are legal. The six cities in which they are legal include three in northern California and three in southern California. The three northern cities are San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose. The three southern cities are Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Glendale. The law will allow these cities to act as testing sites for something that could eventually become widespread, speed cameras automatically sending speed tickets to drivers going above the speed limit.
The bill, AB 645, was pushed for by state Assemblymember Laura Friedman, who has pushed for a bill of this nature since 2005.
The law will officially go into effect in January 2024. With it, the six cities will be given a limited number of speed cameras which they can install in heaving vetted, pre-approved locations. The cameras will then begin monitoring the speed of drivers and detect when someone goes above the speed limit. From there, there is a tiered ticket fine pricing list based on the driver’s speed and once that has been determined, a ticket will be mailed to the driver. This will be done by the fact that the cameras will record license plates and from that locate the driver’s information.
The tiered pricing has a ticket priced at $50, which is generated when a driver is going 11 miles per hour above the posted speed limit. It then increases to $100 for drivers going 16-25 miles per hour above the speed limit. The fine goes all the way up to $500, which would be the fine for a driver going 100+ miles per hour higher than the speed limit.
So where will the speed cameras go?
The speed cameras are intended to go in places in which speeding causes a deadly risk for pedestrians and other drivers. This would predominantly be high-accident corridors, street racing locations, and school zones. In order for the cameras to be installed anywhere, there are several steps they must take. They must vet the location through public neighborhood meetings and from there can determine if the street truly does deserve the camera.
People raise concerns about how this bill will likely disproportionately affect people of color and low-income folks. Newsom and Friedman assure that it will not since the cameras will only detect the license plate, not any driver details. They included as well that there is the possibility of a reduced ticket price, with the potential of an 80% reduction for low-income drivers. However, people expressed concerns with the expectation that most cameras will be installed in low-income neighborhoods that are predominantly people of color. This concern has not been addressed.