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I-95 Car Accidents Down After South Carolina Town Sets Up Speed Cameras

Some car and truck drivers are up in arms over the decision by police and politicians in Ridgeland, South Carolina (SC), to begin using cameras to catch and ticket speeders on the seven-mile stretch of I-95 that runs through the town just north of the Georgia (GA) border. The South Carolina Senate has gone so far as to pass a bill making speed cameras illegal. For their part, Ridgeland officials point to the following accident statistics as evidence that the cameras have made travelling through town considerably safer by making the trip slower:

From January to July of 2010, there were 55 crashes and four fatalities. From August through the end of last month, there were 38 crashes and no deaths. And since the cameras started operating until last month, there has been almost a 50 percent drop in the number of motorists driving 81 or more.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, which estimates that excess speed plays a role in one-third of all motor vehicle accidents in the United, supports the use of speed cameras as an adjunct to police patrols. Some 90 cities and towns across the nation have accepted this advice from the NHTSA. Still, resistance to enforcing speed limits by tracking cars and trucks with radar, photographing license plates and mailing tickets to speeders has rarely been warmly embraced. Ridgeland's town council, for instance, has been sued in federal court by ticketed drivers who believe their rights to due process have been violated.

I am not a constitutional, criminal or civil rights lawyer, so I can't comment directly on the ultimate legality of speed cameras. As a personal injury attorney who has represent dozens of victims of traffic accidents caused by speeding car and truck drivers, however, I know all too well that flouting speed limits too often leads to tragedy. If Ridgeland does have to stop using speed cameras, I hope the town finds an equally effective way to slow down interstate travelers and save lives.


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