Arlington County Board members will seek approval from the General Assembly to expand speed cameras across the community.
In a measure recently enacted by the legislature but not yet implemented by Arlington officials, localities have the power to install “automatic traffic enforcement” (for speeding 10 mph above the posted limit in school zones and work zones). The county government, in an item tucked into its draft legislative wish list for 2021 following a public hearing, seeks expansion of the speed-camera authority to all areas of the county.
The broader measure was proposed by the Transportation Commission, which suggested not only speed enforcement, but also enforcement of stop-sign running, be done by electronic means.
(Virginia localities already have the power to set up cameras to catch red-light runners, but are limited by state law to using them at just a few intersections.)
Giving localities more authority in automated traffic enforcement “has the potential to improve safety, reduce unnecessary interactions between residents and police and further advance equitable outcomes by reducing or eliminating raced-based disparities in speed enforcement,” the County Board’s one-paragraph policy proposal says, although it offers no proof that motorists in Arlington receive different treatment based on demographic characteristics from police when it comes to speeding and similar infractions.
Board members are slated to approve the legislative wish list at their Dec. 12 meeting. The package will be forwarded to the seven members of the county’s General Assembly delegation.
The General Assembly is set to open its 2021 session in early January for what ordinarily would be a 46-day session. But Republican leaders have vowed to use procedural means to limit the session to 30 days, saying the lengthy special session earlier this year provided ample opportunity for pressing legislation to be addressed, negating the need for a longer winter session.
If Republicans can force the Democratic majority to stick to the 30-day timetable, it may make it difficult to process the thousands of bills patroned by legislators each year, which would further the likelihood that ancillary pieces of legislation would be left behind.
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