Support for Automated (Camera) Enforcement Bill

I am going to Beacon Hill this morning to give testimony in support of legislation proposed by Sen. Will Brownsberger to allow cities and towns to use automated (camera) enforcement for speed and red light violations. Here are my comments:

Good morning. My name is Jan Devereux. I serve as Vice Mayor in Cambridge. I also chair the City Council’s Transportation and Public Utilities Committee and have been a strong supporter of the city’s Vision Zero policies. I am a daily cyclist who knows firsthand the mortal danger that speeding and red light violations pose to vulnerable road users.

Earlier this year the City Council adopted a policy resolution unanimously supporting this bill, which is now known as S.1376 (An act relative to automated enforcement). I would like to especially thank Sen. Brownsberger and Rep. Hecht for their leadership on legislation related to improving traffic safety. I would also like to express my deep appreciation to community advocates in the Vision Zero Coalition including LivableStreets Alliance, WalkBoston, Boston Cyclists Union and MassBike.

One of the top concerns the City Council hears from constituents is that cars and trucks are speeding through residential neighborhoods and running red lights at crosswalks. To meet our climate goals and to reduce congestion, Cambridge is strongly encouraging people to walk, bike and use transit instead of driving. We are in the process of reducing our speed limit to 20mph on residential streets citywide. 

Our streets are very busy, and we urgently need new ways to control and deter illegal driver behavior that endangers the safety of people walking and biking, and of school children boarding and exiting buses. Without automated camera technology requested in this bill, traffic enforcement is unfortunately a losing game of “whack-a-mole.” Enforcement is a special challenge on the DCR roads that run through Cambridge. (Fresh Pond Parkway and Memorial Drive don’t have adequate shoulders for state police officers to conduct roadside enforcement.) It’s more than frustrating — it’s life-threatening not to have the enforcement tools we need to protect human life. 

Many other states already allow automated camera enforcement, and it has been proven to be effective both in curbing violations and in reducing the severity of injuries in crashes. Further, it can decrease the incidence of racial profiling in officer-initiated traffic stops.

This bill incorporates many best practices to protect the privacy of motor vehicle operators ticketed through camera enforcement. Only the license plate is recorded — and only if there’s a violation — and the $25 ticket is issued to the vehicle owner, not the driver. The violation does not go on the driver’s record or affect auto insurance rates. It’s the equivalent of a parking ticket. Cities and towns can only install a limited number of cameras on streets and on school buses, based on population, and there must be signs and public notification that automated enforcement is in use. All revenue goes to the Mass Transportation Trust Fund. 

I encourage the Committee to carefully consider the other privacy protections and best practices set out in S.1376 and to send it on to the full legislature with a favorable recommendation for passage as soon as possible. Further delay puts more lives at risk.

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Jan Devereux
City Councillor
Cambridge, MA