Get Ready for Speed Cameras, Philadelphia

Been burned by those treacherous red-light cameras? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

speed cameras

It looks like speed cameras like this one will be installed along Roosevelt Boulevard. (AP Photo)

If you drive a car in Philadelphia, you’ve probably encountered red-light cameras, which raked in more than $10 million in fines last year alone. Well, now it looks the city is going to add speed cameras to its unmanned traffic enforcement efforts.

It’s been four years since we first wrote about the proposal to install speed cameras along the Roosevelt Boulevard, which already has red-light cameras. And now the Pennsylvania legislature has voted to move forward with the plan. All that it needs is Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature, which it’s expected to get, and even if Wolf decides he’s not a fan of speed cameras in Philadelphia, the measure has enough support to override a veto.

“This law will save many lives on the Boulevard and in work zones,” insists Jason Duckworth, president of the Delaware Valley Smart Growth Alliance, which has pushed for speed cameras in Philadelphia. “So far this year, we’ve had 13 deaths on Roosevelt Boulevard, which is unacceptable.”

Indeed, the Roosevelt Boulevard has proven to be an incredibly dangerous stretch of road, so much so that it’s been deemed one of the most dangerous roads in the entire country. The speed limit ranges from 40 to 45 miles per hour, depending on which section you’re on — but the speed limit is a joke. I frequently travel the Roosevelt Boulevard to get to my in-laws in Northeast Philadelphia, and the ride can be downright harrowing.

Nine speed cameras are planned for the Roosevelt Boulevard, and there would be a 30-day grace period during which motorists who exceed the speed limit by more than ten miles per hour would get a warning ticket in the mail. But once that grace period is up, drivers caught zooming by the speed cameras will get $150 fines.

Naturally, a lot of people aren’t too fond of speed cameras. Anti-speed camera activist Tom McCarey of the National Motorists Association argues that speed cameras are ineffective and harmful. McCarey claims that speed cameras might actually increase accidents, and he suggests that a better solution to the Roosevelt Boulevard speeding problem would be underground crosswalks that would allow pedestrians to get from one side of the boulevard to the other without the possibility of getting hit by a car.

“But the politicians wouldn’t get any money from that, so they won’t do it,” wrote McCarey in a statement. “Cameras are everywhere and always a racket to steal money away from safe drivers. Professional highway engineering provides real solutions to highway safety, not the ‘gotcha’ technology of revenue-raising cameras.”

But Duckworth maintains that speed cameras could lead to a 20 to 40 percent reduction in deaths on the Roosevelt Boulevard.

“If you assume 10 to 20 deaths per year, you just saved two to eight lives,” he observes.