IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Speed Enforcement Cameras to Focus on San Francisco Scofflaws

The devices were not permitted anywhere in California, but new legislation allows a pilot in five cities including Oakland. Officials plan to install at least 33 cameras by the end of 2024 to catch speeding drivers.

The San Francisco skyline.
(TNS) — Scofflaw drivers in San Francisco will soon get speeding tickets from enforcement cameras set to be installed this year across high-risk corridors.

At least 33 cameras will automatically catch and ticket speeding drivers by the end of 2024. Speed enforcement cameras were not permitted in California, but Gov. Gavin Newsom signed traffic safety legislation in October to allow them as a pilot project in five cities, including San Francisco and Oakland.

The enforcement cameras have been touted as an innovative solution to risky driving, one that officials say could prevent pedestrian deaths in the future after San Francisco failed to reach its Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic fatalities.

The law requires that the cameras be placed in known risk areas, such as streets that are frequently venues for sideshows or where pedestrian injuries are common.

Sohail Warsi, director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's information technology project management office, told city supervisors at a Monday hearing that the city is still in the process of finding a vendor to operate the city's new speed enforcement camera system.

Here's how the cameras will work:

  • If a driver travels 11 miles or more over the speed limit, the automated camera system will snap a picture of the vehicle and its rear license plate.

  • Once captured, the picture will be sent to the vendor, which will evaluate the photograph to make sure a violation took place.

  • The picture will then be sent to the SFMTA, which will again check to see if there was indeed a speeding violation.

  • Once the SFMTA approves the violation, it will be re-referred to the vendor which will then send out a speeding ticket to the registered owner of the vehicle.

  • If no notice is issued, the vendor will keep the information (which includes a photo of the vehicle) for up to five days.

  • If a notice is issued, the vendor and SFMTA will keep the information for up to 120 days. Fines will start at $50, but low-income drivers will be eligible for an 80% discount.

While studies have found that the cameras change driver behavior, cutting down on crashes and deaths, privacy watchdogs oppose their use, with critics questioning whether the devices will collect personal data that can be stolen or misused.

Warsi said only a handful of agencies will be allowed to look at personal information captured by the speed enforcement system, including the SFPD, the Department of Public Health and the Medical Examiner.

Cameras won't be allowed to use facial-recognition software to identify drivers, and data collection is restricted to a driver's license plate.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen said she "could not be more excited this is happening in San Francisco."

"It's something we've been really fighting for for years," Ronen said.

©2024 the San Francisco Chronicle, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.