A New Pennsylvania Bill Would Allow Local Police to Have Radar Guns

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Be extra careful about speeding in Pennsylvania, because a new bill would allow local police to soon carry radar guns.
The current Pennsylvania law allows Pennsylvania State Police to use radar guns, and the new bill proposes to extend that technology to local departments, as other states in the country have done, according to Fox 43.
In fact, Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that only allows state police to use radar technology. House Bill 606 most recently passed the PA Senate.
A police car pulling over a truck on a highway
A new bill in Pennsylvania would allow local police to soon carry radar guns to crack down on speeding violations.

Expanding the use of radar in Pennsylvania

Instead of radar guns, local police departments in Pennsylvania currently use NRAD, which is a laser device that sits 3 feet apart on the road and requires two officers. The department also uses VASCAR/VSPEC, which averages rates between two white lines
The VASCAR/VSPEC is considered not as reliable as radar technology since it is based on average speed. On the other hand, radar gun technology can tell a police officer instantly if a driver is speeding.
In addition, radar technology is said to be more versatile, since it can easily be moved from one community to the next and only needs one person to operate it, helping to reduce the manpower assigned to enforcing speeding tickets. Meanwhile, the NRAD systems require a setup.
According to the bill, police would only be able to use the technology after completing a training course and while in or adjacent to a clearly marked vehicle.

Criticism of the Pennsylvania legislation

Critics of the bill, such as the National Motorists Association, say it is a “money grab” and are worried the radar guns will be used by the police departments to balance budgets by issuing more tickets to drivers.
But the bill contains the following provisions in response to the criticism (these protections do not apply to school or construction zones):
  • The radar gun cannot be used to time vehicle speed within 500 feet after a speed limit sign that indicates a decrease in speed.
  • A driver can’t be convicted on evidence obtained with the radar gun in an area where the legal speed limit is less than 55 mph if the recorded speed is less than 10 mph in excess of the legal speed limit.
  • On interstates and other high-speed areas, a driver can’t be convicted on evidence obtained through the radar gun unless the recorded speed is 6 or more miles per hour in excess of the legal speed limit.
The bill also has a statement regarding the issue of revenue, stating that the primary use of the radar gun is for traffic safety purposes.
It also says that if a department’s share of revenue generated from speed enforcement citations by a device is more than 10% of the total political subdivisions budget, the excess sum will be remitted to the Department of Revenue Treasury Department.
The bill also notes that those funds will be deposited into the Highway Safety Cadet Training Restricted Receipts Fund account, which is used for the purpose of recruiting, training, or equipping Pennsylvania State Police Cadets.

Speeding in Pennsylvania

The National Motorists Association also argued that traffic fatalities in Pennsylvania reached an all-time low in 2019 without the use of radar guns, according to PennLive.
PennDOT’s 2020 “Crash Facts and Statistics” report indicates that 269 of Pennsylvania’s reported 1,129 total fatalities in 2019 were listed as resulting from speed-related accidents.

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