LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- As soon as next year, drivers in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Glendale could be getting speeding tickets in the mail under a pilot speed-camera program that was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Newsom on Friday put his signature to AB 645, which creates a pilot program allowing six California cities to install speed cameras in "high-accident" corridors, school zones or areas frequented by street racers.
"Slowing cars is imperative to saving lives," the bill's author, Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Burbank, said in a statement last month when the bill was approved by the Legislature.
She said deaths caused by speeding have been incorrectly labeled as "accidents" for too long, adding, "These deaths are preventable."
Under the legislation, the pilot program will allow the six cities to install a limited number of cameras designed to photograph and generate speeding tickets that are then mailed to offenders. In addition to Los Angeles, Long Beach and Glendale, the pilot program will also be operated in Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose.
According to Friedman's office, 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 also contends that 4,379 Californians died in traffic collisions in 2021, 1,275 of whom were pedestrians or bicyclists.
According to Friedman's office, New York City saw a 73% reduction in speeding after introducing speed cameras.
Damian Kevitt, founder of the Los Angeles-based road-safety advocacy group Streets Are For Everyone, was a major backer of the legislation and hailed its approval.
"Reckless speeding has created a public health crisis on our roads," Kevitt said in a statement Friday night. "While city and county officials go through the very slow and expensive process of reengineering streets to make them safer in the future, we need a way to protect our communities from traffic violence right now. AB 645 is part of that solution."
According to Kevitt, tickets generated by the speed cameras would include fines beginning at $50, although the first ticket issued to a driver would only be a warning. Subsequent tickets would be issued similar to parking tickets, sent to drivers through the mail without adding any points to the driver's records or impacting the driver's insurance.
The legislation also includes a legal appeals process and avenues for low-income offenders to have the fines waived or reduced by up to 80%.
According to Kevitt's group, speed has been the biggest factor in traffic crashes in the city every year since 2011, and last year saw a record 312 fatalities. As of late September, there had already been 225 traffic fatalities in the city this year, putting the city on pace for another record, according to Streets Are For Everyone.