Georgia House passes ‘super speeders’ bill

Atlanta Business Chronicle - by [replacer_a] Staff Writer

The Georgia House approved legislation Monday that would crack down on drivers who ignore the traffic laws and raise money to improve the state’s trauma care system.
Lawmakers passed Gov. Sonny Perdue’s “super speeders” bill 113-53 and sent it on to the Senate.
The measure would slap an additional $200 fine on Georgians caught driving more than 85 miles an hour on interstate highways or four-lane roads or more than 75 mph on two-lane roads.
The estimated $23 million the legislation would raise during this fiscal year and the projected take of $31 million in fiscal 2010 would go into the state’s general fund. However, the governor and legislative supporters have promised that they would steer the revenue toward improving trauma care across Georgia.
In a state with a reputation for lead-footed drivers, targeting super speeders would start a gradual shift in attitudes away from driving too fast, said Rep. Jim Cole, R-Forsyth, Perdue’s floor leader in the House.
“We’re trying to create an atmosphere where 10 to 15 years down the road people’s behavior on our interstates is slower,” he said.
But opponents argued that the bill’s absence of sanctions for guilty drivers beyond higher fines shows that is intended to raise money rather than punish super speeders. The bill would not add points to drivers’ insurance premiums or hold out the possibility of jail for offenders.
Rep. Alan Powell, D-Hartwell, said heavier fines without more police enforcement wouldn’t work.
“Fines and revenues don’t slow people down,” he said. “What slows people down is when you see a trooper or county deputy on the side of the road shooting radar.”
Similar concerns have helped sink the super speeder bill for the last two years.
But Perdue got the influential backing of Speaker Glenn Richardson, who made a rare trip to the House well on Monday to urge lawmakers to support the bill.
Richardson, R-Hiram, noted that when the legislature doubled fines for speeding in construction zones several years ago, the number of fatalities went down.
“We can’t have blue lights everywhere,” he said. “We have to tell them we’re going to hit them in the pocketbook.”
The super speeders bill also would increase the fee for reinstatement of suspended driver’s licenses.