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‘Super Speeder’ bill up for vote today

POSTED: March 9, 2009 12:27 a.m.

A proposal to tack an extra $200 onto the speeding tickets of Georgia’s worst offenders is by no means a shoo-in for approval.

The Georgia House of Representatives is scheduled to vote today on House Bill 160, the so-called "Super Speeder" bill intended to pump money into a cash-strapped trauma health care network. It would add a $200 fee to speeding tickets for people going 75 mph or more on two-lane roads or those driving 85 mph anywhere in the state.

Proponents of Gov. Sonny Perdue’s bill say its purpose is two-fold: to provide funding for a trauma network that provides health care in critical emergencies, and to slow down all the leadfoots on the road, many of whom are causing the wrecks that lead to trauma care.

"This will provide a funding mechanism and reduce stress on the current network, because if you slow people down, the chances of having a more severe accident are less," said Rep. Jim Cole, R-Forsyth, the bill’s sponsor.

Cole said Saturday he expects a close vote on a bill that failed to make it to the House floor two years ago.

"I’m not expecting it to coast through," Cole said.

Critics of the bill, particularly those from more rural districts, say their constituents can’t afford to pay speeding tickets that could approach $500 or more with the add-on, depending on the circumstances.

"They’re scared people aren’t going to be able to afford the extra add-on fees, but I have a tough time with that," Cole said. "They shouldn’t go that fast."

Cole said the estimates that the fee would generate about $24 million annually for trauma care are based on a 60 percent collection rate, and notes that officers and judges would have discretion to lower the speed on the ticket if they see a financial hardship.

As for influencing driving behaviors, it may take some time before such a fee gets folks to slow down, Cole said.

"The governor wants to take a long-term approach, that 10 years from now speeds will be slower and that people will view Georgia as tough on speeding," Cole said.

Rep. Carl Rogers, R-Gainesville, said Saturday he was undecided on the bill, but was "leaning against it."

Rogers favors a proposal to add a $10 fee to all vehicle tags to fund the trauma network. Officials estimate such a fee would generate about $62 million for trauma care.

That proposal, known as House Bill 148, remains in the House Ways and Means committee.

Rogers said if funding is provided for trauma care, it should be as much as possible. But Rogers said he understands the Super Speeder bill’s intent of slowing drivers down.

"Speed is a main contributor to accidents and fatalities, but adding a $200 fee on top of what local jurisdictions are charging makes it difficult on all of us," Rogers said.



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