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Letter writer warns of proposed State Laws that will affect your motoring

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To All Media Outlets in Pennsylvania:

Now that the Legislature has passed a budget, they will be  casting about for ways to pay for it. I suspect that there will be a big push from the House and Senate Transportation Committees to unfairly tax drivers in Pennsylvania with a long list of new laws. Traffic enforcement for profit (not for safety) is becoming big business  for Harrisburg  desperate for more revenue.  As far back as 2010, Ed Rendell proposed more red light cameras to raise revenue for Pennsylvania http://thenewspaper.com/news/32/3208.asp.

Pennsylvanians have no idea that their driving freedoms are under attack, so I am writing to you in hopes that you can alert your audience so we can protect our rights . Without sufficient public notification and awareness these bills just sail through committees and final floor votes to become law. The sponsors of these bills count on public ignorance to pass these punitive laws quickly  and painlessly (for them).

These bills are currently in various committees or are ready for a full floor vote and should be defeated:
Speed cameras in work zones- SB 172

Speed cameras on part of Roosevelt Blvd.(US 1) in Philadelphia- HB 1187

Stop-arm cameras- HB 540

Related bill(HB 744), which requires school buses to install surveillance cameras, both inside and outside the bus. Police can use them to issue tickets.

Permitting municipal police to use RADAR(some also allow LIDAR for all police)- HB 43, SB 251, SB 279, HB 970, HB 1290.

Speed cameras in work zones are proposed in spite of the fact that 25% of the PennDOT workers killed in work zone fatalities were due to passing civilian vehicles since 1970. Through 2014, that is 21 fatalities by passing vehicles in 45 years, or one about every 2.14 years. The data shows that 75% of the PennDOT workers killed were accidents with other workers or work machinery. There is no need for speed cameras in work zones, except to raise revenue and to set the stage for speed cameras everywhere when they are magically shown to be “effective highway safety tools,” even though ‘Minnesota Study Finds No Benefit To Work Zone Speed Cams’ http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/50/5006.asp.

Speed cameras on the Boulevard are another scam. The safety problems on the Boulevard stem from highway-engineering malpractice by the officials, PennDOT and politicians in Philadelphia who refuse to use time tested engineering principles like synchronizing the traffic lights to a speed of 45 MPH to end “speeding” and “red-light running,” and putting crosswalks underground. They don’t fix the road because there is no money in it, and their red light cameras are wildly profitable because of too-short yellow lights (more malpractice). Likewise, speed cameras up there are to set the stage for speed cameras everywhere.
Stop arm cameras on school buses sound all nice and fuzzy. However, over 70% of school bus fatalities were caused by the bus and less than 30% were caused by passing cars. If stop arm cameras were on every school bus nationwide, and if they could optimistically prevent half the fatalities by passing cars, it would take an average state about 28 years to prevent one fatality. In the meantime, about two and a half times more of these child pedestrian fatalities would be caused by the bus drivers running over the kids they are paid to protect.
Stop arm cameras are a desperate attempt by the for-profit camera companies to replace the revenue they are losing as lucrative red light camera programs are being closed as money-grab programs, not safety programs.
No one wants kids put at risk by anyone. But stop arm camera programs are about money, not a practical way to reduce child fatalities.
As for RADAR and LIDAR:
Speed limits in Pennsylvania are purposely set too slow. 90% of the limits in Pennsylvania are posted too slow by 8 to 16 miles per hour [Federal Highway Administration study,1996 (
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/97084/97084.pdf)]. That makes it easy to write expensive “speeding” tickets. Yet our “safety advocates” would have you believe that there is an epidemic of speeders run amok that can only be cured by arming local police with RADAR and LIDAR. In fact, Pennsylvania’s highways have never been safer, according to PennDOT.
Local roads have limits set by politicians with an agenda of raising revenue through issuance of speeding tickets instead of limits set by highway engineers using actual time-tested safety guidelines. The bill sponsors are preying on the public’s lack of true highway safety knowledge to ram their bills into law, as they constantly harp on the “speed kills” lie.  US DOT Report Confirms Speed Not Major Accident Cause
US Department of Transportation study finds only five percent of crashes caused by excessive speed
https://www.thenewspaper.com/news/26/2627.asp: that is no justification for RADAR and LIDAR everywhere to unfairly punish/tax  reasonable and prudent drivers.
Add to that the inaccuracies of RADAR and LIDAR. We all know the stories of the tree clocked at 90 miles per hour: that is the rule with RADAR not the exception. The accuracy of laser-based speed guns (LIDAR) has been shown to be unproven in 95% or more of the country’s courts.
There is an undercurrent of contempt for drivers from  certain quarters, but it seems to be amping up in Pennsylvania  and especially in Philadelphia. Look at the rhetoric from the Vision Zero people: they sprinkle their arguments with the phrase “traffic violence” as if all drivers get behind the wheel determined to cause mayhem and run amok.
Putting money above the safety of constituents is to be expected from the special interests and the politicians, especially now, but they cannot be permitted to do that to pay for the budget:  it has been  agreed by the Senators and Representatives that there will be no broad-based tax increases, i.e., no increases in the income tax and the sales tax. However, more money must come from somewhere, since the insatiable government appetite for money leads  to  fiscal irresponsibility,  guaranteed raises, perks galore, gold-plated pensions, make-work jobs for relatives and cronies, subsidization of  billionaire sports team owners, and wasteful largess to extensive to list here.
The above legislation exists solely to unfairly tax drivers, the new cash cow, in Pennsylvania.  The above legislation has nothing to do with highway safety.  Tell the Legislature to find another source of revenue, or, better yet, CUT some of the waste out of the budget. Tell your Senator and Representative to VOTE NO on all these bills.  Thank you.

Sincerely,
Tom McCarey Member, National Motorists Association
www.motorists.org

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