Red light cameras will be allowed in parts of Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery counties in the Philadelphia suburbs as well as Pittsburgh, under a new law signed July 2 evening by Governor Tom Corbett.
AAA Mid-Atlantic says motorists must be protected from revenue-generating abuses that have happened elsewhere.
Under the new Pennsylvania law, a municipality would need to pass an ordinance authorizing a red light camera intersection, and submit the request to PennDOT. The law does not specify the criteria for approval.
“These systems can help save lives and contribute to traffic safety for motorists and pedestrians. However, there needs to be very specific, measurable criteria for approving camera intersections, including the need to address serious traffic safety issues including a substantial crash history volume. The potential for abuse with such automated systems is real, and we’ve seen that happen all too often in multiple other states and local jurisdictions when the focus quickly becomes ticket revenue and not safety. AAA encourages all drivers to obey traffic laws – but we will advocate for our members if we see blatant abuses of authority,” said Ronald W Kosh, Vice President of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
In just one recent example, the New Jersey DOT suspended operation of multiple red light cameras across the state due to overly short yellow signal phases.
Under House Bill 254, municipalities eligible for red light cameras would have to exceed 20,000 residents and have full-time police forces accredited by the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association. The law takes effect in 90 days. Here is a list of eligible locations:
- Bucks County: Falls, Middletown and Warminster Townships;
- Delaware County: Springfield Township
- Montgomery County: Norristown Borough and Abington, Horsham, Lower Merion, Lower Providence, Montgomery, Upper Dublin and Upper Merion Townships.
Under the new law, motorists are protected by several provisions advocated by AAA:
- Red light camera locations are to be based on crash data, not traffic volume.
- Camera vendors are paid a flat amount, not related to number of citations issued.
- Posted warning signs telling motorists that red light cameras are present.
- Yellow light timing cannot be arbitrarily changed.
- Red light camera citations must be issued by a police officer employed within that jurisdiction
- Red light camera violations would not carry any points.
- Frontal photographs of vehicles are prohibited, and the cameras cannot be used for surveillance.
- Revenue goes to Pennsylvania’s Motor License Fund for safety and mobility projects throughout the state, not just the local jurisdiction.
The new law also immediately reauthorizes the red light camera program in Philadelphia. The old law expired June 30 and the new law was signed Monday evening – so motorists had a couple days’ reprieve from tickets.
AAA Mid-Atlantic serves 700,000 members in the Philadelphia (5-county) region and nearly four million members in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, with personal insurance, financial, automotive and travel services through 53 retail branches, regional operations centers and the internet, at www.aaa.com/community.