Pennsylvania Senate advances bill Oct. 25 to protect use of automated enforcement in Philadelphia, allow more communities throughout state to post red-light cameras; OOIDA official says state is focused on revenues, not safety

GRAIN VALLEY, Missouri , October 27, 2011 () – Nearly 20 Pennsylvania cities are one step closer to being able to enact ordinances to use red-light cameras.

The Senate voted 35-14 on Tuesday, Oct. 25, to advance a bill to protect the use of automated enforcement in Philadelphia and allow more communities throughout the state to post red-light cameras. The bill – SB595 – now awaits consideration in the House.

Currently, only the city of Philadelphia is authorized to use the revenue generator. The revenue from the program is split between the city and the state for pedestrian safety improvements.

The program in Philadelphia is scheduled to expire Dec. 31, 2011. The bill would extend the expiration date to Dec. 31, 2017, and also authorize Pittsburgh, Scranton and 17 third-class cities with populations of at least 18,000 people to post red-light cameras for the next six years.

Affected communities must also have full-time police forces.

Violations would result in up to $100 fines. No points would be added to offenders’ driver’s licenses and auto insurance companies would not be notified.

Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, the bill mandates that revenue be split between the state Department of Transportation and municipalities across the state. Total revenue collected from the fines also would be capped at 5 percent of a city’s annual budget.

Pileggi wrote on Twitter after the vote that the cameras will help save lives. He also stated that “fines collected under SB595 will be used for transportation safety projects.” In addition, he noted that “no city can use the funds to enhance its general budget.”

Opponents, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, dispute any claim that the primary focus of the cameras is to keep people safe. OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said it is obvious that Pennsylvania’s use of the enforcement tool is primarily focused on filling coffers instead of simply trying to keep people safe.

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