Recent legislation proposed in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives would allow local police in the state to use radar guns as a way to detect speeding drivers. Currently, only Pennsylvania state police are allowed to use radar guns. Local police have to rely on much more basic methods of speed detection, like using a stopwatch to time a car’s travel time between two set points
This has long benefited drivers who knew that local police were patrolling the speed in the area. The lack of advanced technology means that it is much harder to detect speeders, especially those who drive five to ten miles per hour above the limit, which can be harder to determine with a stopwatch.
The legislation, introduced by Senator Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny), would allow local police to use radar guns when patrolling their areas for speeding drivers, ending Pennsylvania’s standing as the only state in the nation that does not allow local officers to use radar guns. There are currently two other bills in the House designed to do the same thing.
The National Highway Traffic Administration has cited Pennsylvania as the state with the third highest amount of deaths from speeding in 2011. The backers of the new legislation argue that if local police are allowed to use radar guns, it will cut down on the number of speeders and any resulting injuries and deaths.
There are concerns, however, about local police using radar guns. Many are afraid that they will not be properly trained to use them or that they will not be maintained, because of tight budgets. This would yield many errors with gun readings that produce incorrect traffic tickets. Some also believe that it would increase the number of speed traps, which are criticized as being less about safety and more about generating revenue.
Until the House votes on the bills, local police will continue to have use other methods of speed detection.