On October 13, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 645, a speed camera bill, into law. AB 645, introduced by Assemblymember Laura Friedman from Long Beach, allows San Francisco and five other California cities to pilot automated speed cameras for the next five years.
Along with a large group of supporters, we have been advocating for the introduction of speed camera technology into California for several years. Starting in 2017, we were key organizers with then-Assemblymember David Chiu trying to pass an earlier version of this bill. Automated speed enforcement is a proven and powerful traffic safety tool that has seen success across the world in reducing speeding cars. Since we know that speed is the primary cause of severe and fatal traffic crashes in California, we know that automated speed enforcement will reduce the number of traffic deaths and severe injuries in San Francisco.
AB 645 will bring life-saving technology to San Francisco starting January 1, 2024 when it goes into effect. In addition to San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Los Angeles, Glendale and Long Beach will also pilot this life-saving technology. Each city has a specific number of cameras they are authorized to implement; the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is authorized to install 33 speed safety cameras throughout the city. The cameras will only be placed around schools and along the High Injury Network–the 12% of streets that see the most severe collisions occur. The bill also requires that the cities take geographical and socioeconomic factors into account when selecting camera locations.
The SFMTA says that they are already beginning the work to implement this technology, but it will require “about 12 months to complete the steps required by the legislation to ensure the speed camera technology is implemented equitably and transparently.” The SFMTA hopes to launch cameras in early 2025. The bill requires that the community have input on the location of the cameras. We will continuously monitor this process and make sure that community voices are heard.
Drivers who exceed the speed limit by 11 miles an hour or more caught on the cameras will receive a fine, beginning at $50 and increasing depending on the speed. There are potential fee reductions or community service options for those who qualify based on financial need. There will also be a warning period with no fee given out when the cameras are first installed.
Any revenue generated from the ticketing will go directly into the city’s traffic calming measures and will have further positive impacts on street safety.
These are civil penalties; there are no points added to your license nor is it subject to surcharges. The fines given out by the cameras will be significantly lower than speeding fines given by police officers. There are performance metrics in place so the effectiveness can be assessed and tweaks can be made during the pilot. The legislation 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.
We have been supporting AB 645 and past versions of it because we believe that automated speed enforcement will change driver behavior, which is a crucial component for safer streets. Last year, San Francisco saw the highest number of traffic fatalities since Vision Zero began in 2014. This pilot will be monumental in helping us reach our Vision Zero goals.
We want to acknowledge Walk SF, San Francisco Bay Area Families for Safe Streets, Streets for All and Streets Are for Everyone for leading on AB 645 through this legislative cycle. And we’re grateful to Governor Newsom, Assemblymembers Matt Haney and Phil Ting, Senator Scott Wiener and now City Attorney David Chiu for taking leadership on this legislation and seeing it through. As well, we recognize Assemblymember Laura Friedman and her staff authored this version of the bill and worked diligently to get it approved. Finally, we want to acknowledge and show our thanks to the SFMTA staff who have been pushing for this legislation for years.
These changes become reality through our continued work with all these partners to improve traffic safety throughout San Francisco – and you can help! Support safer streets by becoming a member, or renewing your membership today!