News Article
Please Don't Limit SB 735 -- Speed Safety Cameras in School Zones!



























In 2013, I was the victim of a hit-and-run in Griffith Park near Los Angeles while cycling. I was dragged a quarter of a mile down the street and onto the 5 Freeway, which resulted in eventually losing my leg. Last week, I - and a coalition of over 40 traffic violence victims and safety advocates - were victims of another hit-and-run. This time it took place in Sacramento. 

As the Executive Director of Streets Are For Everyone (SAFE), I have turned my personal tragedy into a life dedicated to advocating for safer streets. I am deeply committed to bringing more awareness to the tools communities have to slow drivers down and save lives. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding is a contributing factor in 26% of all traffic fatalities. The risk of traffic violence to pedestrians has increased in recent years as more drivers are speeding and our streets are seeing more men, women, and children walking and riding bikes. And the trend is demonstrating that children walking to and from school are especially at risk. 

To help solve the speeding crisis -- and that is exactly what it has become -- SAFE is sponsoring Senate Bill 735, legislation that allows local governments to adopt speed safety cameras in school zones. Thankfully, we have Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) as the author of the legislation and a true champion of safety. Senator Rubio is a former teacher who understands the risk speed has on our community. She has worked tirelessly to craft an equitable bill that protects data privacy and citizens from speeding. 

Sadly, California is one of the only nine states that expressly forbids speed safety cameras in school zones. This tool has been available since 1987 and is unquestionably effective. Data in cities across the country, such as New York, Seattle, and Chicago, show that speed safety cameras reduce traffic injuries and fatalities and change driver behavior. More importantly, there are already thousands of schools across the country that currently use speed safety cameras to protect kids, teachers, and parents. 

Thankfully, momentum is on our side. California's Zero Fatality Task Force, created by legislation authored by Assemblywoman Friedman (D-Burbank) in 2018, carefully studied ways to end traffic violence. In the end, they made a recommendation for the use of speed safety cameras. 

The National Transportation Safety Board has also recommended that states adopt laws to allow speed safety cameras statewide. The Association of California School Administrators and several school districts also voted to support Senator Rubio's desire for speed safety cameras in school zones. Furthermore, there is a recognition from local governments that speed safety systems would help reduce reliance on police in-person pullovers in and around schools. 

Because of the sound policy, proven results, and widespread support for speed safety cameras, Senators Bob Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera), Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), and Henry Stern (D-Los Angeles) all joined Senator Rubio as co-authors in support of SB 735.

Despite all of this positive energy, however, we were run over in the Senate Transportation Committee by some of the state's police unions and truck drivers. Due to pressure from the unions, Chairwoman Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) wouldn't allow SB 735 to move forward unless the authority was limited to 4 schools (out of 20,000 in the state) and only permitted for two years. 

This is an insult to victims of traffic violence and the coalition of support, especially given the immediate problem and widespread, documented effective use of speed safety cameras across the country. 

One of the harder things I have had to do is tell victims of traffic violence -- who were emotionally prepared to testify in committee -- that this lifesaving bill wouldn't make it through committee due to political forces that are hard to explain. Why would police unions work to fill a bill that so obviously would help save lives? It is heartbreaking. 

But we will pick ourselves up and gain strength. The voices of traffic violence will not be silenced. Safety advocates will not accept that denial of the science. Equity groups will demand accountability. And, in the end, we will save lives.

Damian Kevitt, Executive Director
Streets Are For Everyone

Call-to-Action: Contact Senator Gonzalez

To Call

To register a verbal objection to Senator Lena Gonzalez's actions, dial any of the office numbers below:

Capital office, Sacramento
Phone: (916) 651-4033

Long Beach District Office
Phone: (562) 256-7921

Huntington Park District Office
Phone: (323) 277-4560

Message points that can be used for phone

Hello, (introduce yourself, name/organization). (If you are a constituent of the Senator, let them know that you are in the district)

I want to know why SB 735 did not move forward as written. 

I understand that the opposition tried to turn this bill into a pilot program in just a few schools in the state. 

That is NOT enough. More needs to be done to protect our school zones and roadways. 

(insert any personal anecdotes about why this bill is important to you, or feel free to use the message points below).
  • SB 735 will help enhance the safety of children and pedestrians by allowing the use of speed safety cameras in school zones to reduce the number of speeding drivers.
  • When installed in the most vulnerable areas of our communities, such as schools, speed safety cameras are proven to save lives by reducing speed. 
  • Case studies from other states around the country have shown that cameras are effective in slowing people down and changing behavior in the long term. 
  • In the last year during the pandemic, speeding has gone up throughout the state, as have deaths from crashes where excessive speed was the cause. 
  • Traffic crashes are the leading cause of preventable child fatalities in California
I am asking the Senator to move this bill forward as written and not delay a bill that will save lives. 

Thank you!

To e-mail:

E-mail and , please blind CC .

Suggested e-mail (feel free to add your own story or reason in this)

Re: Please don't limit SB 735!

My name is (introduce yourself, name/organization). (If you are a constituent of the Senator, let them know that you are in the district)

I understand that the opposition tried to turn this bill into a pilot program in just a few schools in the state. I am upset that Senator Gonzalez has gone long with this and tried to limit SB 735's use. A pilot in just four schools is NOT enough. More needs to be done to protect our school zones and roadways when traffic crashes are the leading cause of preventable child fatalities in California. 

Case studies from other states around the country have shown that cameras effectively change behavior in the long term and reduce speed-caused collisions. In the last year during the pandemic, speeding has gone up throughout the state, as have deaths from crashes where excessive speed was the cause. 

I expect Senator Gonzalez to stand up to this opposition and do what's right, help protect our most vulnerable road users around schools, using speed safety cameras as covered in SB 735. 

I am asking the Senator to move this bill forward as written and not delay a bill that will save lives. 

Thank you!








 
   
Author: Dayna