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Op-Ed: Proposed legislation to expand police radar use ‘flawed’


James Sikorski Jr. is the Pennsylvania Advocate for the National Motorists Association

Sen. Greg Rothman’s push for municipal police radar has the same flaws now that he is in the state Senate as when he was in the House. Per federal and state rules, speed limits are supposed to be posted at the 85th percentile speed of traffic. That seldom happens, but there is no desire to correct the situation. Why not require that current rules must be followed right now, and specifically write it into the bill a mandate that in order to use radar, speed limits must be properly posted? That will never happen, as fine revenue is the main intent. The argument that fines are low is incorrect. So many things get tacked on that a ticket is likely above $200, sometimes much higher.

Pennsylvania legislative bills that would allow municipal police to use radar and LIDAR are not what they seem. The bills permit underposted speed limits and tickets barely above them. The bills would criminalize safe drivers, who are going to work and doing essential activities. They would also encourage traffic diversion to smaller roads without speed traps.

Federal studies have shown that speed limits have little to do with how fast people drive. Most speed limits are underposted by 8 to 16 mph, and low speed limits can lead to more crashes. So much for safety! This is being done for revenue. PennDOT also has said for years that Pennsylvania roads are the safest in history. All that without having radar.

Officials point to the state police as an example, but you may want to pull up Radargate Revisited first to see how the state police handled having radar. Now, many want to give radar and LIDAR to municipal police? Many things can go wrong there.

Why do police routinely exceed speed limits? Do as I say, not as I do?

Over the past few years, the assembly seemed more interested in generating revenue than ensuring best-practice engineering exists. Ever see a short yellow light or too many stop signs? Add these to the underposted speed limits. Instead, we see things like red-light cameras, speed cameras, and stop-arm cameras. Now they want to add municipal radar?

One thing Rothman should be doing is working to ensure that roads are properly fixed, paved, and plowed. If you drive around the state, you see there is MUCH room for improvement.

Allowing radar without correcting the underposted speed limits is a nonstarter. Contact your state representative, state senator, and Governor Shapiro to say to vote NO on municipal radar. Also tell them to repeal automated traffic enforcement.


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