RI legislators propose changes to controversial speed camera law
Some Rhode Island lawmakers are proposing changes to a controversial speed camera law after more than 17,000 violations were issued during the last month.
A 2016 state law allows towns and cities to install speed cameras within a quarter mile of a school.
Their purpose is to slow traffic, but lawmakers said they're turning into a money grab instead.
"That's not calming traffic. That's not taking care of school zones. That, numerically, is a money grab and that's not the intention of the bill,” Rep. Robert Craven, a Democrat who represents North Kingstown, said.
The city of Providence has collected more than $600,000 in fines so far from drivers going more than 11 miles per hour over the speed limit in a school zone. Tickets are $95 a pop.
"These cameras are looking at you all of the time when you're on that roadway, so it's a different type of enforcement,” House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, another Democrat, said.
Now, lawmakers are proposing changes to the law, which would issue warnings first and lower the ticket price.
Other lawmakers plan to introduce bills requiring that fines generated by speed cameras go toward school safety.
“I think there's a moral hazard with these traffic cameras to be used as general revenue creating devices,” Rep. Blake Filippi, a Republican who serves as the House Minority Whip, said.
“If it really is about school safety, then we should be using all of the revenues from these for school safety,” he said.
He, and others, are hoping to strike a balance between safety and fairness.
"The ultimate goal is to educate people and get their speed down so that our children are safe,” Mattiello said.
The city has pointed out that there are signs near the cameras explaining their role.
A representative for Mayor Jorge Elorza told NBC 10 News that while they are committed to the cameras they are open to changes.