Councilor Clinton Woods begins push for Automated Speed Enforcement in Birmingham
“Something we hear a lot of, as elected officials, are complaints around speeding through neighborhoods and communities. This is becoming a major public safety concern and something we are looking to address,” Councilor Clinton Woods said during Monday’s Governmental Affairs Committee meeting.
On Monday, the committee voted to recommend a resolution encouraging the administration to move forward with adding automated speed enforcement in Birmingham to this year’s legislative agenda in Montgomery.
“This could potentially be a game changer, when you look at people running stop signs, traffic lights, passing in the middle lane,” Woods said. “We need to figure out a long-term solution because it’s not the best use of police officer’s time and resources to sit and monitor speeding regulations.”
A lot of cities utilize this system already — Center Point, Midfield, Montgomery, Mobile all use some variation of automated speed enforcement system.
Here is a copy of the resolution that was approved by the Governmental Affairs Committee:
Councilor Valerie Abbott said during the meeting that she has shifted her opinion about automated speeding enforcement systems over the last several years.
“People seem to get worse and worse about running red lights, stop signs and speeding through residential areas. People drive like maniacs out there. Having almost been hit twice now as a pedestrian, I’m starting to become a believer in this kind of system,” Abbott said. “I’m in favor of us investigating this further. I know that Center Point has had them for years now and it’s definitely made people think twice about driving recklessly.”
This resolution is the first step toward bringing an automated system to Birmingham.
According to Woods, similar automated speed enforcement systems are funded mainly through the money gathered from citations issued, however he was quick to add this is about public safety, not creating additional revenue streams for the city.
“A lot of the initial equipment cost is covered and the company, whoever that may be, will recoup the cost after the fines are collected,” Woods said. “We have the ability to set the limit in which someone can go over the speed limit. You have to be careful to not be punitive in how you address this issue…Speeding is a concern citywide. We need a long-term solution to this beyond asking our police to come out with radar guns.”
Before any automated system would be put in place, a traffic study must be conducted to determine where the best possible locations for the cameras would be. Every city in Alabama that wishes to implement a system like this has to have an individual bill passed by the state legislature.
“Every city that has a system like this has had to get approval from the legislature and go through that process,” Woods said. “There was some talk of a bill that would cover the entire state but that never got any traction.”
Cities and states that have put automated speed enforcement systems in place have seen reductions in the number of accidents and traffic fatalities. Chicago reported a 31% decline in speeding vehicles; Portland, OR, reported a 53% reduction in fatalities since program inception; since Seattle’s fixed camera program inception in December 2012 to December 2014, the average number of traffic violations decreased by 64%.
Officials in Birmingham hope to replicate this success and work with the state legislature to pass a bill allowing automated speed enforcement to be used in the city.
The resolution is expected to come before the Council for a vote on Tuesday, November 26.