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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 10:42 a.m., Thursday, January 10, 2002

State now says speeders can expect zero tolerance

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

The state has quietly dropped a plan to only cite drivers who are clocked by the new photo-enforcement system at more than 10 percent in excess of the speed limit.

That means if a driver is caught going over the speed limit by even 1 mph, a ticket could be issued.

"We feel speeding is speeding," Marilyn Kali, state transportation department spokeswoman, said today.

The program began Jan. 2 and public opinion — from angry calls to radio disc jockeys to letters to the editor — has been hot and vocal.

Last month, state Transportation Director Brian Minaai said the 10 percent "margin of error" would be the threshold enforced by operators of the new system. At the time, Kali also said that was the threshold.

"It was a misunderstanding on my part," she said today. "It was never going to be 10 percent. I misspoke."

Minaai did not immediately return phone calls today to The Advertiser.

In a Dec. 16 press release the department addressed the threshold this way: "As a practical matter, citations are issued for driving at speeds somewhat higher than the 10 percent 'safety margin' suggested by some observers."

At the time, Minaai also said the department had not wanted to release information about the threshold — the most frequently asked question by the public. The reason was simple.

"Telling motorists how fast they can drive above the posted speed limit without being ticketed may convince some of them that speeding is permissible," the press release said.

Since the program began, it has been credited with slowing down drivers all over O'ahu.

On first day of the program, 927 of the 13,507 vehicles checked were speeding. But state officials said that glitches in the system cut the number of citations issued on that first day to 158.

On its second day, 630 of the 10,803 vehicles checked were speeding. Traffic court officials received 178 citations from that day, said Marsha Kitagawa, a spokeswoman for the Judiciary.

And on the third day of the program, when the cameras clocked 463 of 11,943 vechicles speeding, 108 citations were sent out, Kitagawa said.

Affiliated Computer Systems, the company hired by the state to run the program, initially proposed giving tickets only to drivers going 11 mph or more over the speed limit.

"The state did not agree to that," Kali said today. "That was what they based their proposal on. However, we are saying anyone who exceeds the posted speed limit is subject to a citation."

Reach Mike Gordon at mgordon@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8012.