(Photo courtesy of Walk SF)
For the 2023-2024 State Legislative cycle, your San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is tracking and supporting several transportation bills that will improve safety and equity on SF streets.
Assembly Bill 645 speed safety system pilot program (AB 645) is a pilot we have been advocating for for several years. If passed, AB 645 will establish a five-year pilot program in six cities across California, including San Francisco, to operate camera and radar technology to automatically enforce speed limits on high-injury streets and around school. This bill is already supported by our Assemblymembers Haney and Ting and State Senator Wiener.
We know that speeding is the number-one cause of collisions in San Francisco, and speed safety systems – sometimes called automated speed enforcement – could be an immensely effective tool to make our streets safer. Automated speed enforcement (ASE) is a proven alternative to traditional speed enforcement that automatically detects and tickets speeding violations in order to change driver behavior and make our streets safer.
This program includes strong measures to ensure that key concerns around privacy and equity are addressed. For starters, any penalty given is a civil one so it does not put a point on your license nor is it subject to surcharges, and the fines in this bill are significantly lower than speeding fines given by police officers. The provisions require cities to reduce fines for those under the poverty line by 80% or offer community service, and require cities to reduce fines by 50% for individuals 200% above the poverty level. The bill requires any revenue from the fines to be spent on local traffic calming measures. Additionally, there are performance metrics in place so the effectiveness can be assessed and tweaks can be made.
The legislation also prohibits the use of any photo or video taken for any other purpose than a speeding violation and requires that they be destroyed after 60 days. Facial recognition technology is also prohibited. The language stipulates that the cities must seek community input on where the cameras will be installed. Once the cameras are installed, there will be a 60-day warning period where no tickets will be issued.
There are even more provisions that make this bill incredibly thorough and safeguarded, you can read more here. We have been supporting AB 645 and past versions of it because we believe that automated speed enforcement will change driver behavior, which is what we need in order to have safer streets. We know that a lot of people have valid concerns about this technology, which is why we have invested a lot of time in making sure this bill is as comprehensive as can be. Now, it’s time to implement the pilot program. Once it is in place we will monitor it closely to ensure that it is changing driver behavior and not over burdening any equity priority communities.
AB 645 has already passed the Assembly Transportation Committee and Privacy Committee with little opposition. Now it is going to the Appropriations Committee, where bills are sent when they have a fiscal impact. This is our biggest hurdle yet, because this is where past versions of AB 645 died. We need you to email the Chair of the committee and the Speaker of the Assembly to ask them to pass AB 645 and let the full Assembly vote on it on the floor.
Automated Speed Enforcement will change driver behavior and save lives and we need your help to get it implemented.