Is this new law fair — and will it result in safer driving?
Once the second longest twin span bridge in Louisiana at a total length of 18.2 miles when it opened to traffic in 1973, the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge — which is also known as the Louisiana Airborne Memorial Bridge — carries at least 30,420 vehicles per day on Interstate 10 over the largest wetland and swamp in the United States known as the Atchafalaya Swamp in south central Louisiana between Baton Rouge and Lafayette…
Should Motorists Be Timed and Fined For Speeding?
…and in 2021, of the greater than 270 accidents which occurred on that bridge, two people died as a result — which prompted a state senator from Lafayette to introduce a bill called SB 435 to the 2022 legislative session of Louisiana to determine how to catch motorists who exceed the speed limit by at least ten miles per hour: Page Cortez suggested using cameras to time how long a driver takes to get across the bridge. If the vehicle crossed the bridge in fewer than 18 minutes, the motorist was exceeding the posted speed limit of 60 miles per hour and therefore would be fined with a speeding ticket via postal mail — based on how fast the vehicle takes to get from one end of the bridge to the other instead of the miles per hour the vehicle was traveling.
Violators would be fined double the current fine for speeding on the bridge, which is currently between $175.00 and $500.00 for subsequent offenses. The money collected from scofflaws would go to a special fund which will be created and referred to as the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge Safety Fund — with “unexpended monies in the fund shall be divided equally between the parishes of Iberville and St. Martin and shall be remitted to entities or organizations within each parish in the same proportions as fines collected by the parishes when traffic violations are issued by a law enforcement officer.”
Because the twin span bridge is narrow on both sides, creating speed traps which are hidden from motorists is almost impossible to do — which means that some motorists substantially exceed the speed limit to the point where other motorists are fearful of the potential danger of driving on that stretch of Interstate 10 in either direction.
John Bel Edwards — who is the current governor of Louisiana — signed that bill into law recently; but the actual date of implementation has not yet been set as of the time this article was written.
Final Boarding Call
One could argue that a precedent already exists for years in which patrols via aircraft time the distance which a vehicle passes from one line painted on the roadway to another line…
…but is this system fair and just — or is it an overreach of law enforcement which could set a precedent of sorts for similar laws along other highways within the United States? Will it actually create a safer roadway for motorists and result in fewer accidents and deaths — or is this law simply a “money-grab” by the government in Louisiana?
Keep in mind that if a motorist is caught speeding while driving a rental vehicle, the rental car company will likely imposed a hefty financial penalty in addition to the legal costs to the driver…