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Could cameras slow MN's speeding drivers? Legislation proposes pilot program to find out

Traffic fatalities and speeding have increased on state roads. The two are related because speeding is a factor in more fatal crashes then either impaired or distracted driving.

Legislators are considering if something done elsewhere might be an acceptable way to tackle the issue here.

Sponsored by Rep. Jamie Long (DFL-Mpls), HF4242 would allow the Transportation and Public Safety departments to work with communities to implement speed camera pilot programs in designated work and school zones.

The bill, as amended, was laid over by the House Transportation Finance and Policy Committee Friday.

Speed safety cameras are a proven safety measure across the country, Long said, adding the technology is reliable and effective.

“I know we’ve never had speed safety cameras in Minnesota, which is why this bill begins with a pilot,” he said.

Speed cameras allow authorities to enforce traffic laws remotely. The cameras would focus on license plates rather than car occupants.

[MORE: See a speed safety camera worksheet]

Minnesotans have been reluctant to use cameras for traffic enforcement, and the bill aims to address fairness and privacy concerns.

Citations would be issued when vehicles are going more than 10 mph over the speed limit and cameras would record only when speeding is indicated.

Fines would be $40, but increase to $80 if the violation is more than 20 mph over the posted speed. People could take a free traffic safety class in lieu of a first-time fine. Warnings would be issued for the first month of a pilot program.

Citations would not be part of a driver’s record or used to revoke or suspend licenses. An exception is commercial licenses because federal regulations require tickets be tracked.

Only trained speed enforcement agents who are permanent public employees could issue citations.

Several committee members questioned if the proposed legislation would satisfy fairness and privacy issues.

Rep. John Petersburg (R-Waseca) asked how law enforcement can cite the driver of a speeding car when the cameras only identify the owner.

Rep. Nolan West (R-Blaine) is leery of starting to rely on cameras for public safety. 

“This opens the door to automatic enforcement, and I am very concerned about that going forward, cameras for anything, not just speeding,” he said.

The companion. SF3996, sponsored by Sen. Ann Johnson Stewart (DFL-Minnetonka), awaits action by the Senate Transportation Finance and Policy Committee.

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