A measure that would boost the fines levied at speeders on the I-10 bridge over the Atchafalaya Basin has advanced through a Louisiana Senate Committee. The Senate Transportation Committee voted to approve the measure brought forth by Lafayette Senator Page Cortez.

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In the debate over the measure Cortez, a frequent user of the stretch of roadway that is often slowed to a crawl or closed entirely by crashes noted that speeding was a major catalyst for all of those issues. Cortez's legislation would hopefully curtail some of that excessive speed by raising fines levied against motorists who exceed the posted speed limit.

Cortez noted in an article published by the Louisiana Radio Network that he, like a lot of us that drive that stretch of I-10, will set his cruise control at 60 mph which is the posted speed.

I put my cruise on 60 mph and I’m telling you, I feel like they are about to ram into me, from the backside and they are cutting in front of me, I’m trying to stay in the right lane, but they are passing me like I”m standing still

Cortez isn't the only one to share that sentiment. A Lafayette radio station commissioned an unofficial study of listeners who were driving across the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge between the hours of 6:30 am and 8:30 am.

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Each of the three motorists who agreed to participate in the unofficial study set their cruise control to 60 mph as soon as they got on the bridge floor. They moved to the far right lane and counted the number of other vehicles that passed them on the bridge.

The first motorist who started his journey at 6:37 was passed by 47 different vehicles in the 18-mile stretch. The second vehicle which began its journey across the basin at 7:13 was passed by 67 different vehicles. The third motorist started her journey across the basin bridge at 7:55. She reported being passed by 53 different vehicles.

 

All three motorists said they were passed by multiple 18-wheelers. The truck speed limit on the basin bridge is 55 mph and big trucks are supposed to be confined to driving in the far right lane. 

As you can see, there is a speeding issue on that stretch of roadway. Page Cortez's legislation would raise the fines associated with speeding on the basin bridge by roughly five times. A speeding ticket on that stretch of I-10 would set you back $350 under the new law.

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The proposed legislation would also double speeding fines for truckers who don't stay in the far right lane. It would also allow for the use of electronic monitoring. Yes, we are talking about speed cameras on the I-10 Atchafalaya Basin Bridge.

While many people in municipalities like Lafayette and New Orleans where the "eye in the sky" has been used or is being used to monitor traffic don't really care for the cameras Cortez suggests we think about them differently in this situation.

The cameras are our friends, they are not enemies, if you don’t want to get a citation just go the speed limit and stay in the correct lane

Just for clarity, the proposed law would allow for drivers to be issued warnings before they are issued a citation. And, the legislation has only passed the Senate Transportation Committee. It will now go to the full Senate for further debate. If approved by the Senate the legislation would move to the House. If passed by the House the measure would need the Governor's signature to become law.

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So, we're still weeks, months, and maybe even a year away from this legislation becoming a reality in the world in which we drive.

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