By Jon Delano

HARRISBURG (KDKA) – Pennsylvania is the only state that does not permit local municipal police to use radar to ticket drivers who speed. As KDKA political editor Jon Delano explains, that could change with a bill that was just approved by the state Senate by a vote of 49 to 1.

Nobody likes speed traps, and in this state, it’s the state police who do them with radar because the legislature has never given local police the authority to use radar. That could change if the House approves Senate Bill 419, which the Senate has passed.

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“It helps to improve traffic safety,” says Theresa Podguski with AAA East Central, which supports the bill.

“Speeding is definitely a traffic safety issue, and it’s one that we are seeing more and more,” she says.

“Traffic is usually one of the highest complaints in the community, traffic-related issues, and that’s anywhere from speeding vehicles to aggressive driving to distracted driving,” notes Mt. Lebanon Police Chief Aaron Lauth.

Lauth says local police lack the tools available in other states to combat speeding vehicles.

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“We aren’t quite as effective as we could be but that’s due to the limitations we have in terms of the tools we have available to us,” says Lauth.

Bills to permit local radar have passed the Senate before but failed in the House where some lawmakers worry municipalities will issue tickets to make money.

“This is one of the biggest ways that small communities, villages, towns make revenue so it’s a huge issue. Even big cities put it into their budget, how much they are going to make per year on tickets,” says Shelia Dunn with the National Motorists Association. “It’s definitely a money-maker.”

But Lauth says most of the speeding fines go to the court, not to the town, and this Senate bill would limit a town’s revenue from radar to ten percent of its overall budget.

Senate Bill 419 also gives drivers an extra ten miles an hour above the speed limit before police, using radar, could pull you over.

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The state House is not expected to take up this bill until next fall.