Source: Virginia Mercury Newspaper
By Ben Cline
According to an article in the Virginia Mercury Newspaper by Ben Cline, when they reconvene this month, Virginia lawmakers will consider a proposal to allow local governments to install speed cameras wherever they deem them necessary, with penalties of up to $100 for violations.
Bill patron Del.-elect Mike Jones, D-Richmond, said the legislation is intended to increase speed enforcement and reduce the number of traffic fatalities.
“It gives localities the decision of whether they want to do it or not,” said Jones. “So it’s not a ‘shall’ — every locality will have it — but for the ones that are concerned with this, it would help them out.”
State law currently allows local governments to install speed cameras in work and school zones as a way to drivers to go slower around children and construction workers. Jones’ bill would go further, allowing their placement in “any location deemed necessary” by local governments.
However, the use of more cameras to enforce speed laws has previously sparked controversy over privacy and public perceptions that the technology is just another way for a locality to raise revenue.
In November, amid a Frederick County debate, outgoing Supervisor Shawn Graber told the Mercury that “there should never be a time when a locality tries to simply put something in effect to make money from someone else’s misdoing.”
Jones said he understands the concerns, but argued people are asking for safer streets and safer neighborhoods.
“There’s not enough police for them and/or they don’t respond to neighborhoods simply because of numbers,” said Jones. “I understand the concern for the overpolicing, I get that. I get that as an African American male, I get that as pastor of an African American church, a Black legislator that represented predominantly Black and brown people. I hear that, but the reality is this: People aren’t dying in a lot of these different neighborhoods; where they’re literally dying is in mine.”
Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles data found that last year, 20% of the 122,434 crashes in the state were speed related, a 1% increase over the previous year. Virginia Department of Transportation crash data also shows that between 2018 and 2022, the annual number of traffic fatalities increased from 819 to 1,005.
The DMV said that on average, 2.8 lives are lost and 163 people injured every day because of traffic crashes.