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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                  
May 28, 2010

For More Information, Contact:
Keith Weissglass (650) 688-6384


SACRAMENTO – To ensure that drivers’ rights are respected as traffic control and enforcement technologies evolve, State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced today that he has introduced a trio of transportation bills that protect motorists.

The bills, pending in the Senate, will prevent carpoolers from being charged to use lanes that they now use for free (Senate Bill 1245), ensure the privacy of toll lane and FasTrak records (Senate Bill 1268), and better regulate “red light” tickets issued via cameras (Senate Bill 1362).

“New technologies can improve our roads and the driving experience,” said Simitian, “but at the same time we must make sure that the driving public is treated fairly.”

SB 1245 prohibits transportation agencies from charging carpoolers for the use of high-occupancy traffic lanes. Plans to convert California’s carpool lanes to High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes – which allow solo drivers to pay for a faster commute – are on the rise. Some of these proposals include charging carpoolers for using lanes that are now free.

“California has carpool lanes for good reasons,” said Simitian. “They encourage ridesharing, they speed up traffic, and they fight air pollution. The last thing we should do is discourage drivers who are already keeping extra cars off the road.”

Simitian notes that the notion of charging carpoolers for using the carpool lane, “isn’t just on it’s way, it’s already here.” Carpools on the 91 Freeway in Southern California are currently charged 50 percent of the posted toll at certain times of day.  And in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Bay Area Toll Authority recently imposed a $2.50 charge on carpoolers using the carpool lane on Bay Area bridges.

“The notion of charging someone who’s carpooling for using the carpool lane, that’s already been built with taxpayer funding, is just over the top,” said Simitian.  “It’s both unfair and counterproductive.”

SB 1268 protects the privacy of drivers who use FasTrak passes, or who simply travel over toll roads and bridges. The passes are read by antennas not only at toll bridges, but as part of traffic monitoring systems in the Bay Area and elsewhere. Cameras are also used to ensure tollpayer compliance.

“The net result,” says Simitian, “is that relatively obscure transportation agencies have personal data and travel histories for well over a million Californians, with no real meaningful legal protection from misuse of or inappropriate access to the data.”

SB 1268 prohibits transportation agencies from selling or sharing personal data, requires them to purge the data when it is no longer needed, sets penalties for violations, and ensures that FasTrak subscribers are given notice of the privacy practices affecting them.

The bill has drawn significant opposition from transportation agencies around the state.

SB 1362 establishes statewide rules for the installation and operation of “red light cameras,” so that they are placed only where a history of collisions justifies them, and so that tickets can be easily and effectively challenged if they are inaccurate.

SB 1362 was a winner in Simitian’s annual “There Oughta Be a Law” contest. The idea was submitted by Vera Gil, a resident of San Jose, who received three tickets from Southern California for a car she doesn’t own and has never driven.

While Simitian does not oppose red light cameras per se, “they raise issues of accuracy, privacy and due process. And I’m strongly of the view that traffic tickets should only be issued to improve public safety, not to raise revenue,” Simitian said.

For more information on these bills, visit