LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Three Southern California cities are expected to launch a program next year that would let them operate speeding cameras in areas that are prone to car crashes and racing.
Gov. Gavin Newsom last week signed legislation authorizing a pilot program in six cities statewide for the cameras, which are aimed at "high-accident" corridors, school zones or areas frequented by street racers.
The Southern California cities authorized by AB 645 are Los Angeles, Glendale, Long Beach - in addition to the Northern California cities of Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose.
Trina Newman Townsend, a 62-year-pastor, was fatally struck by a hit-and-run driver on Christmas Eve 2022, while she was dropping off toys at a shelter.
"She meant so much to all of us," her best friend Darlene Smith said in an interview. "But now she's not here, due to a reckless, speeding driver."
The cameras will observe cars speeding in those areas at least 11 mph above the limit. Based on their images and data, tickets will be issued to the owner of the vehicle with fines starting at $50 but ranging up to $500 depending on how high above the limit the driver is clocked.
"We have a public health crisis on our roads due to speeding," said Damian Kevitt, executive director of Streets Are For Everyone, a nonprofit advocacy group. "Speeding is by far the number one factor in the number of people being hit and killed or seriously injured across Los Angeles -- and, in fact, across the entire state of California."
Kevitt, who survived after being struck by a speeding hit-and-run driver and hospitalized, has been leading the push for change with speed cameras.
"The federal government has studied the use of speed cameras, and has found that across the board, they reduce speeding, they reduce serious injuries, and they reduce fatalities," Kevitt said.
The bill's backers note that tickets issued in person by officers are typically much more expensive, in the range of $238 to $490. The first ticket would be a warning.
The bill's author, Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Burbank, says statistics from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health show that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for people under 30. Her office says New York City saw a substantial reduction in speeding after introducing similar cameras.
"Every inch of this program is designed to save lives," Kevitt said. "It's not designed, honestly, to make money. It's designed to save lives."