ATLANTA -- Georgia drivers could get speeding tickets without ever seeing the face of a police officer. The bill passed the House of Representatives Wednesday. It lets cameras and speed sensors generate speeding tickets within school zones.
Outside a DeKalb County school in October, police say a driver struck and killed 4-year-old Lun Thang as her mother walked her to school. A few weeks later in Cobb County, a car struck and killed a school crossing guard, Edna Umeh, as she was directing children walking to school. Both fatalities occurred in school zones – typically spots where speed limits are lower.
"Why is everybody not alarmed by that?" asked Rep. Erica Thomas (D-Austell), a backer of the bill. "Using these speed detection cameras, we’re able to catch the people that are speeding through our school zones and making our kids unsafe."
If it passes, critics say that this would be the first time in Georgia that a speeding ticket could be issued without the input of an on-scene police officer.
"This is a terrible idea," said Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) on the House floor as the bill was debated Wednesday night.
"Friends please, please. Let’s not take this step as a state. Let’s be wiser than this. Let’s not start to let cameras manage people on our roads," Setzler said.
The state has already allowed cameras to send tickets to motorists violating red light laws – though some cities have since dismantled those systems.,
The House narrowly passed the school zone camera bill late Wednesday night by a vote of 94 to 76. The state Senate will decide next.