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Colorado: Legislators Eye Millions in Speeding Ticket Revenue
Doubled fines and freeway speed cameras could help balance the Colorado state budget.

Buffie McFadyen
Colorado lawmakers are looking to the highway patrol to assist efforts to balance the state budget. Earlier this month a state legislative panel unanimously approved a proposal to more than double the cost of speeding tickets and other minor traffic infractions. Colorado Legislative Council staff estimated the change could generate more than $14.7 million in extra revenue from the 208,000 motorists who receive traffic tickets annually, with the state only paying a one-time cost of $33,600 to reprogram court computers with the higher fine amounts.

State House Transportation Committee Chairman Buffie McFadyen (D-Pueblo West) introduced the fine legislation as well as a second measure that would make "work zone" speed traps mandatory. Under the proposal, photo radar would generate automated citations from speeding drivers and a "move over" provision would be used to cite the motorists who are not speeding.

McFadyen is using the tragic death of freeway worker Charles Mather to promote the concept of lowering speed limits and doubling fines in anything designated as a work zone up to four hours before any actual road work is done. The mandatory traps would be put in place no matter how minor the work and regardless of whether it involved any potential hazards or not. The law even allows warning signs to be posted on moving vehicles to create a roving zone with the enhanced penalties.

Any motorist on a freeway who fails to "move over" one lane away from a work truck on the side of the road commits a crime and can be ticketed. Several states already require motorists to take similar actions for marked ambulances and police cars, but this would be the first to mandate the conduct for "privately owned vehicles as are designated by the state motor vehicle licensing agency necessary to the preservation of life and property," as well as tow trucks "approved by the public utilities commission."

In 2006, Illinois pioneered the concept of using freeway work zone speed cameras to generate millions in the name of protecting construction workers. The evidence, however, indicates that only 15 percent of freeway construction zone injuries are actually caused by automobiles. A far greater number of workers are injured by their own construction equipment.

View the full text of state Representative McFadyen's fine increase legislation, HB1010 (40k PDF format), or the full text of the photo radar bill, HB1036 (40k PDF format).

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