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Oregon House passes anti-speeding bill that still allows speeding

Posted by on March 24th, 2017 at 12:49 pm

New bikeway on NE 21st Avenue-13.jpg

Is it unreasonable to expect people to drive at or below the speed limit in our cities?
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon House Judiciary Committee passed a bill by a vote of 9-1 yesterday that will give cities the authority to issue speeding tickets to people who are caught on red light cameras. But it only applies to people driving 11 mph or more over the speed limit.

Lawmakers and law enforcement officials included that minimum threshold in the bill because they didn’t want the measure to seem unreasonable to drivers.

The aim of House Bill 2409 is to address an enforcement gap that exists in Oregon: Red light cameras have speed sensors but the speed data isn’t part of the citation process; and photo radar vans that watch for speeding aren’t allowed to cite for red light infractions. This bill combines those two technologies into one system.

“Just normally driving through a city it is not uncommon to have your speed creep up a little bit. Technically you’re violating a traffic law; but is it reasonable to issue a citation?”
— Jim Monger, Beaverton Police Chief in testimony for the House Judiciary Committee on February 16th

Because of the traffic safety implications, the bill has broad support from law enforcement personnel and it’s supported by the City of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation. PBOT — who operates 11 red light cameras at 10 intersections — sees the bill as a part of their Vision Zero efforts.

While the law new will encourage safer and slower driving behaviors, one of its provisions is troubling: People will only be cited if they are going 11 mph or more over the speed limit. While this approach is standard practice from police bureaus (they do it because traffic court judges often side with drivers and dismiss tickets for driving just a few miles over), to ignore this type of unsafe driving behavior in state statute seems like a step in the wrong direction. Especially for a state where nearly 500 people were killed in traffic crashes in just one year.

There’s a strange dichotomy at work here. On one hand, our leaders want to improve safety by creating a new enforcement tool. And on the other, they don’t want to cause too much trouble for the people whose behaviors cause the unsafe conditions.

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When the bill was discussed by the House Judiciary Committee on February 16th, Beaverton Police Chief Jim Monger urged lawmakers to support it. When one of them asked him why the bill won’t ticket people until they go 11 mph over the speed limit, here’s how Chief Monger replied (emphasis mine):

“The idea of issuing a citation of someone traveling at a lower speed of 9 or 8 miles per hour… frankly, I feel like you’d be very hard-pressed to find an officer — or even a deputy or a state trooper — that would issue a citation for that minimal amount. Just normally driving through a city it is not uncommon to have your speed creep up a little bit. Technically you’re violating a traffic law; but is it reasonable to issue a citation? So it gets to that reasonableness…. that’s why that particular number was selected.”

Wait. What?!

Tell people who have lost loved ones from speeding about what’s “reasonable”.
(Graphic: PBOT)

According to PBOT (above) there’s four times the likelihood of death or injury when someone walking or rolling is hit by a person driving 30 mph instead of 20 mph. And the risk doubles again from someone driving 40 mph instead of 30 mph. There are major safety implications to driving even 10 mph over the speed limit.

Chief Monger and the lawmakers who agree with him are normalizing extremely dangerous behavior. Common practice or not — why one earth would the state endorse driving “double digits above the posted speed limit” — especially while driving through a city?

Another provision in the bill says that law enforcement cannot deliver two citations “from the same criminal episode.” In other words, if you are cited speeding, you cannot also be cited for running the red light — even if you are guilty of both (unless your speed is 21 mph or more over the limit).

Judiciary Committee member Representative Jeff Barker (D-Aloha) said he likes that provision. A former Portland Police Bureau lieutenant, Barker said during the February hearing that when he was at the PPB it was standard practice to only issue one ticket even if two violations were committed. “We didn’t want to double-barrel people,” he said.

Do we want to make streets safer? Or do we want to appear reasonable and friendly to people who are making them unsafe?

From here the bill will make a brief stop at the House Revenue Committee before moving over to the Senate.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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J.E.
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J.E.

Is there anything that could be done about making this bill sane, or are we stuck with the 11-over and one-or-the-other provisions (else risk losing the bill entirely) now that it’s passed the house?

rick
Guest
rick

What else to expect from a Beaverton government ?

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Little known fact(?), 10 mph is possible under current statutes and very specific conditions:

A. narrow residential roadways – 2-way travel width of 18 feet or less in a ‘residential district’ can be posted for 15 mph, by statute.
B. streets identified for bike use can be posted 5 mph below statutory.

The definition of a road is the portion used for vehicle travel. If (big if) you can depave, design, or clearly otherwise clearly designate the space used for vehicle storage, i.e., the shoulders or parking lane, and the remaining space for vehicle travel is 18 feet or less, you would meet the narrow residential roadway definition.

Most of the residential roads in Portland could achieve this set of criteria with little change.

Of course, just modifying current law to permit cities to post any streets in residential districts at 5 below statutory would be simpler.

longgone
Guest
longgone

Have none of you rolled an orange light? I see how the lawmakers are trying to focus on people blatantly throttling through a red. I received my first speeding ticket in 19 years last summer from a radar van. My speed? 11 over. So you will know the van was on Yeon going SE into downtown. It was parked 15 feet past the entirely too tiny sign that indicated the speed drop from 45 to 40. I try diligently to drive within the law, thus my lack of tickets. I for one would hate to get a ticket for rolling on an orange light turning red if there was no time to stop without endangering those around me INCLUDING cars behind me.
Also, @ rick… Where does it say the bill was launched by reps in Beaverton? I realize it states a policeman there supports it. I’m sure several Portland police, and residents might as well. Ridiculous .

colton
Guest
colton

Say what you will, but this is an improvement over what we have today.

9watts
Subscriber

“strange dichotomy at work”

= Car Head

(excuse, normalize behavior by someone in a car that is dangerous or even illegal, because, well, everyone does it/no one’s really going to ticket someone for this, wink, wink)

Dave
Guest
Dave

Who the hell wrote the bill–Joseph Heller or Kurt Vonnegut?

Pete
Guest
Pete

I’ve commented several times previously how easy it is to “creep” over the speed limit in modern, quiet, powerful cars. Trying to drive 25 MPH (or less) on a residential street takes consistent concentration, and it may even move your focus from the roadway to the speedometer itself.

That being said, driving 36 MPH in a 25 MPH zone is dangerous and noticeable, both to driver and to other motorists and road users. You quickly come upon people driving in compliance, and can’t help but to realize your speed. In a 40 or 45 MPH zone (most of the roads I ride in Class II bike lanes and shoulders on), driving at 51-56 MPH is highly noticeable, dangerous, and allows motorists to carry surplus speed into slip lanes that feed (typically) 35 MPH roads.

Very disappointing to see this tolerance justified by law enforcement and public officials. 5 MPH tolerance would have been quite reasonable, and far from an ‘injustice’ to our poor, poor American drivers who are already having their ‘rights’ taken away by potholes, narrow highways, road diets, and having to share the road with all those “special interest groups.” (Sorry, particularly sarcastic today).

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Wow, this is the first time I’ve seen a chief of police quoted anywhere with a specific number given for allowable speeding. Unconscionable.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

It seems to me that 11mph over posted speed limit, is giving people that drive, too much latitude for excessive speeding. This is something I’ve expressed a number of times in past comments here at bikeportland. I have written as a preferable alternative, that 5mph over allows people sufficiently reasonable margin for excessive speeding, and 6mph over should be grounds for citation. Actually, on that basis, people would get up to 5.9mph latitude before citation, which to me seems very lenient, and while for safety and livability, it’s not as desirable as staying closer to posted speed limit, I think it makes for a reasonable compromise.

Maybe…with highway/freeway speeds of 60mph and 65mph…11mph over before citation, might be reasonable…but even there, speeds traveled seem to have gotten out of control. It doesn’t to me seem particularly difficult, even at 60 and 65, to keep the vehicle speed from exceeding more than a few tenths over an additional 5mph.

In less populated areas of the state, maybe the public sentiment tends to lean towards the 11mph before citation latitude…but here in urban-suburban valley towns and communities, I have to wonder whether the public generally does favor so much latitude for excessive speeding. Danger from excessive speeding aside…the noise alone, from vehicle wind noise and tire on pavement scrub, gnaws away at community livability quality. Between for example, 25mph and 35mph, there’s a big difference in amount of vehicle noise produced.

I’ve never met Beaverton’s police chief…maybe not have even heard him speak in public. Have met some of the city’s other officers, and heard them speak. If you go to a neighborhood meeting, or a traffic commission meeting, an officer is often there to give a presentation. The impression coming across, is that they’re professional, reasonable people that care very much about their community.

With that in mind, this 11mph over posted before citation from Chief Monger, mystifies me. It’s my feeling that this is way too fast for many of Beaverton’s streets. A 20mph school zone effectively becomes a 30mph school zone? Wow…that’s a head shaker. Same with the 40mph (5mph reduction app proposal pending.) zone on Baseline Rd between Jenkins and 158th: effectively 50mph. Jenkins between Murray and Cedar Hills Blvd…the mall, Tek, lots of apartments, two gyms, two day care centers on a mile and half or so stretch of road, is posted 45; the proposed latitude would make that a 55mph road…beyond the pale.

9watts
Subscriber

I’ve always wondered about the 85th percentile rule in relation to setting speed limits.

Well, here’s some copy on that question from wikipedia:

“The speed limit is commonly set at or below the 85th percentile operating speed (being the speed which no more than 15% of traffic is exceeding)[45][46][47] and in the US is typically set 8 to 12 mph (13 to 19 km/h) below that speed.[48] Thus, if the 85th percentile operating speed as measured by a Traffic and Engineering Survey exceeds the design speed, legal protection is given to motorists traveling at such speeds (design speed is “based on conservative assumptions about driver, vehicle and roadway characteristics”).[49] The theory behind the 85th percentile rules is, that as a policy, most citizens should be deemed reasonable and prudent, and limits must be practical to enforce.[50][51] However, there are some circumstances where motorists do not tend to process all the risks involved, and as a mass choose a poor 85th percentile speed[citation needed]. This rule in substance is a process for voting the speed limit by driving; and in contrast to delegating the speed limit to an engineering expert.[52][53]”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_limit#85th_percentile_rule

As I’ve noted here in the comments in the past, people cycling through Ladd’s Circle are not given the same kind of latitude, the same deference, that interprets their 85th percentile behavior automatically as reasonable and prudent, and adjusts the rules to match that behavior.

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

only way to really eliminate speeding to to take a human out of the equation(s)..
all vehicles should have either, a camera that can read speed signs and automatically govern the max speed…or a database and gps (that can be updated) the automatically governs the max speed…or both…

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

Based on proposed laws like this one, and the current crop that are equally lenient towards speeding, the state of Oregon should create an official “Vision 500” plan. The state can then justify whatever steps are necessary to continue allowing the slaughter of 500 people per year on our roadways statewide.

Sure, it’s not as catchy as Vision Zero, but at least it’s closer to being honest. Who knows, maybe this would reduce our epidemic of cynicism towards government.

soren
Guest
soren

“Just normally cycling through a city it is not uncommon to roll a stop sign. Technically you’re violating a traffic law; but is it reasonable to issue a citation?”

fixed it for you.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

As I mentioned in a previous story, a Multnomah County sheriff’s deputy ran over a disabled veteran last April at 4am while driving 33mph in a 25mph zone with his lights off, and dragged him 95 feet. He died in the emergency room.

http://koin.com/2017/03/21/family-seeks-682000-in-wrongful-death-against-deputy/

He had a much better chance of living had the deputy been driving under the speed limit with his lights on.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Sure-fire way to get people to drive 5-10 mph. Paint a white line perpendicular to the direction of travel, and erect a sign that says “STOP HERE”.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

PBOT and PPB need a plan to address that 10mph if Vision Zero is going to mean anything less than 30 deaths per year.

Maybe a citizen citation party on 20/25mph streets. Take 1000 8mph-over tickets to the traffic court and see how many people show up to contest them.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

From the photo accompanying the article – it looks like the bicyclist is speeding too (was that the message?)?

Kevin Wagoner
Subscriber
Kevin Wagoner

Terrible. So 36 mph on SW Spring Garden between two schools and a day care is ok? That gets close to 80% chance of fatality…assuming that is higher for little ones. Why not just post a 36 mph sign?

Matt Meskill
Subscriber
Matt Meskill

And we’re supposed to take Vision Zero seriously?

Peter W
Guest

Clearly, what this says is that all posted speed limits should be reduced by 11mph.

q
Guest
q

The idea that it’s unfair to “double-barrel” people by counting speeding through a red light as two violations instead of one isn’t logical.

What that’s really saying is that IS fair to charge someone who runs a red while NOT speeding–which even conscientious drivers can end up doing, even when not trying to–the same as someone who runs one while going 20 mph over the speed limit. Or, it IS fair to charge someone going 10 mph over the limit on a straight stretch of empty road the same as someone who speeds through a red light at rush hour with pedestrians in the crosswalk.

I think it’s much fairer to all drivers to count the double violation as two violations, instead of counting it the same as a single violation. It sounds almost silly to need to say that.

Tim Roth
Guest
Tim Roth

For what it’s worth, as someone who has been cited for a red light violation while speeding, the judges are not forgiving at all in these cases. So they at least ensure that the penalty is as full as it can be. Not exactly a preventative measure, but they seem committed to educating drivers on how stupid it is to be reckless.

KristenT
Guest
KristenT

Stupid– The Beaverton Police Chief should have said that as speedometers in vehicles aren’t recalibrated on an annual basis, it’s difficult to be able to ticket someone for 5-10 over because there are too many factors that could change the speedometer.

For instance, my speedo reads fast when I’ve got my snow tires on my car; read spot on with the original tires; and reads 2mph slow with my newer street tires on.

I’m basing this on my non-scientific observation driving through multiple school zones, and this is all based on 25mph or less. It could be different at higher speeds, but I haven’t found a speed camera outside of a school zone, outside of school days, to check.

My speedo also reads differently if I’ve got taller tires on (such as rally tires or mud tires), so I could argue a speeding ticket based on that technicality.

Maybe if the vehicle renewal process included a speedometer calibration check, you could ask for a tighter tolerance on the ticketing threshold.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Bingo. My point is we’re outliers here, and despite seeming to disagree with 9 Watts, the only point he and I really disagree on is that 5 MPH is a much more feasible (unwritten) rule than 11 MPH over. The argument for strict enforcement of speed limits is what we already have, and we see how well that’s working.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

If cars can, under the law, speed 11 over…why then is a bike who rolls through a stop sign a clear threat? What’s good for the goose…

James C. Walker
Guest

Wherever posted limits are arbitrarily and less-safely set 11 or more mph below the safest 85th percentile speeds of free flowing traffic under good conditions, a high percentage of the camera tickets will go to safe drivers who endangered no one – for the purpose of profits. But enforcement for profits is 100% wrong, 100% of the time.

NOTE: these will be the places that most cameras are located, because only in such places will they produce profits.

James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

” it takes concentration to keep a car at 25″.

Wow…To think people utter this out loud. First off, every vehicle I have owned, cruise control works at 25. Learn it….Use it.

Second, if you can hold a car to 25 to 25 or less, get out of the driver seat. You are unfit to drive.
Third, the max anyone should be driving in a residential​ is 20moh tops.

Twenty is plenty.

9watts
Subscriber

“We didn’t want to double-barrel people,” he said.

If we’re going to use a shotgun metaphor, can we keep in mind who is holding the ‘gun’ here? Someone is caught speeding and running a red light, and yet the cop here is not concerned about the two barrels out of which the speeder/light-runner is firing, but the issue of saddling the poor schmuck with more than one citation?!

If this is not Car Head I don’t know what is.

SE
Guest
SE

So ..do the new speed cameras on 122nd and on Division have a “grace 11 over” feature ?
OR is this another example of uneven enforcement ?

random_rider
Guest
random_rider

Pete
I’ve commented several times previously how easy it is to “creep” over the speed limit in modern, quiet, powerful cars. Trying to drive 25 MPH (or less) on a residential street takes consistent concentration, and it may even move your focus from the roadway to the speedometer itself.

I agree. That’s why I try to stay at 20 mph on a street posted for 25. That way if I creep up a couple mph, I’m still within the law. Of course, that’s assuming that the conditions are safe to go 25. On a street like NE Alberta between MLK and 33rd I am closer to 10-15 mph.

Rain Waters
Guest
Rain Waters

Another tiny step in a century long process of training motorists that continuously driving “OVER” the digits posted on the sign is “IMPERATIVE”. An hour spent driving at the number posted on the sign on any freeway demonstrates this fact. Higher speed = greater petro company profit, decreased service life of auto, decreased frequency of loans etc etc. .

Until this de-facto “imperative” is acknowledged, addressed and eliminated driving will continue to be practiced as recreational. Until any so called “traffic flow” is capped at a reasonable speed limit by strict enforcement or electro-mechanical goverance pedestrians and cyclists are subject to an out of control meat grinder.

Until people learn to live together by respecting such a simple thing as a number on a sign talking about this is a waste of time.

I believe compromising on such has already failed.

Not gulity
Guest
Not gulity

How about we use GPS in all vichles and phones and give people tickets anytime they speed, that way we can all pay hundred, thousand and millions of dollars to the government

David
Guest
David

paikiala
I’m 53, and have only had one speeding ticket, maybe two or three parking tickets. Maybe your social norm meter is off?Recommended 0

At 53 years of age this would mean 49 years ago when you received the speeding ticket you would have been 4 years old. I had no idea 4 year olds could get a speeding ticket. I am curious enough to ask a sincere question – did you break the speed limit by going down hill in your little red wagon.