Los Angeles drivers may soon see speed camera tickets in their mailboxes under a new pilot program signed into law last week. Governor Gavin Newsom approved Assembly Bill 645 on Friday, authorizing automated speed enforcement cameras in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Glendale, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose.
Supporters hope the cameras will reduce speeding and traffic deaths, while critics argue they infringe on privacy and limit due process.
Speeding a ‘Public Health Crisis’
AB 645 establishes a 5-year pilot program allowing the 6 cities to install speed cameras near schools, on dangerous corridors, and in areas with frequent street racing. Camera locations will be designated by city officials and posted with signage.
Cameras would photograph license plates of speeding vehicles, then generate tickets mailed to the registered owner. Fines would start at $50 for violations up to 10 mph over the limit, with higher fines for faster speeds. No points would be added to drivers’ records.
Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Burbank), the bill’s author, said the goal is reducing preventable deaths from “reckless speeding.” Traffic collisions are the leading cause of death for Americans under 30, with speed as the primary factor. In backing the bill, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health called speeding a “public health crisis” on the roads.
According to a statement from Friedman’s office, speed camera programs have successfully reduced speeding violations and traffic fatalities in other cities. New York City saw a 73% drop in speeding after introducing speed cameras.
AB 645 supporters say automated enforcement provides a practical solution to deter dangerous driving behaviors and encourage compliance with speed limits. Traditional police enforcement is not always feasible due to limited resources.
Critics Question Effectiveness, Privacy Impact
While AB 645 passed the Legislature with bipartisan support, opponents have raised concerns about equity and privacy.
The National Motorists Association argues that speed cameras infringe on citizens’ due process rights and facilitate warrantless surveillance. Since tickets are issued to the vehicle owner rather than the driver directly, some contend that speed cameras wrongfully punish car owners for others’ violations.
There are also concerns that the cameras could disproportionately affect low-income residents less able to pay fines. Additionally, some opponents feel penalties should focus on dangerous driving behaviors rather than simply exceeding a posted speed limit.
Proponents note the legislation prohibits using speed cameras for surveillance unrelated to speed enforcement. The law also establishes an appeals process and allows low-income residents to request reduced fines based on ability to pay.
Reducing LA’s Rising Traffic Deaths
In Los Angeles, speed-related collisions have been rising, according to data from transportation advocates.
Last year saw 312 traffic fatalities in the city, an all-time high. As of September, Los Angeles had already recorded 225 deaths this year, putting it on track for another record. Speeding has been the leading collision factor annually since 2011.
“Reckless speeding has created a public health crisis on our roads,” said Damian Kevitt of the road safety group Streets Are For Everyone (SAFE). “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.”
SAFE has pushed for automated enforcement in LA to immediately improve safety. The group says expanding traffic law enforcement has been constrained by city budget cuts and resource limitations. Speed cameras provide a force multiplier to enhance enforcement coverage.
What to Expect from LA’s Speed Camera Pilot
So what can Los Angeles drivers expect from the new speed camera program?
The legislation allows participating cities to install cameras in designated high-crash zones near schools, known speeding corridors, and areas with frequent street racing activity. Signage will be posted notifying drivers of speed enforcement monitoring.
Captured speeding violations will result in a warning letter for a first offense. Repeat offenses will generate citations mailed to the registered vehicle owner, starting at $50 for speeds up to 10 mph over the limit. Fines increase for higher speeds up to $500.
Importantly, no driver’s license points will be added, and insurance rates should not be affected. Cited drivers can also request reviews through an administrative appeals process.
Low-income residents can apply to have fines waived or reduced based on ability to pay. Courts may offer community service alternatives to satisfy speed penalties.
The pilot program will run for 5 years, during which time participating cities must report data on automated speed enforcement implementation and safety impact. The Legislature will evaluate the program’s effectiveness in improving traffic safety when considering whether to expand speed cameras statewide.
For now, AB 645 provides a new tool for Los Angeles to combat its rising traffic death toll. If speed cameras in New York and other cities are any indication, LA streets could become safer for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians when automation starts patrolling local speed limits. But with privacy and equity concerns lingering, the pilot’s ultimate reception remains to be seen.