Mayor Elorza: Speed cameras will eventually be ‘statewide thing’

Dan McGowan
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza_257899

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said Friday he believes cites throughout the state will eventually begin using traffic cameras to catch speeders, in part because the process of police officers pulling drivers over and writing them tickets can be “really time consuming.”

The first-term Democrat also said he is open to finding a “fairer way” to issue violations, including implementing a warning system before tickets are issued or creating a “tiered system” that would fine drivers based on how fast they were traveling over the speed limit.

“I do anticipate this is going to be a statewide thing, so I think it behooves us to get this right as this begins to expand throughout the state,” Elorza told Eyewitness News.

In January Providence became the first community in the state to take advantage of a 2016 state law that allowed cities and town to use speed cameras within a quarter-mile of any type of school. The city issued more than 12,000 speeding tickets during the first 33 days of the program using only five cameras. Six additional cameras will begin issuing violations Monday.

Tickets can be issued for any vehicle caught traveling at least 11 miles per hour over the posted speed limit between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, according to the city’s contract with Conduent State and Local Solutions Inc., the private vendor that oversees both speed cameras and red-light cameras in the city. The cameras are also portable, and the city is allowed to move two of them to new locations each week. The ticket are $95 apiece.

Elorza said “we were just as shocked as anybody else that there were this many violations,” but he suggested the number of tickets will fall because “people will change their behavior.” Although he acknowledged the city has seen a “burst of revenue,” he said he considers safety the primary reason for using the cameras.

“Over the long term, it’s very possible that we won’t, that the city of Providence and other folks that use it won’t, be making enough revenue to recoup the expenses,” he said.

Elorza also said the city has put in an order for “massive signs” that will be posted near every camera as part of an effort to educate drivers about the program.

Elorza’s comments came a day after four Democratic state representatives introduced legislation that would require a warning on the first speed camera violation, a $50 fine on the second violation and a $95 fine for all subsequent violations. The proposal would also require municipalities to improve signage warning drivers about the cameras.

The City Council has also decided to conduct a full review of the camera program in the coming weeks.

Continue the discussion on FacebookDan McGowan (dmcgowan@wpri.com) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

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