Motorists Are Timing Themselves on Basin Bridge in Preparation for New 18-Minute Speed Camera Law and the Results are Unsettling
On August 1, 2022, a new law that allows cameras to monitor your speed on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge will go into effect.
If you want to learn more about how this technology will work, check out this detailed story from our news partners at KPEL News here—but the quick and dirty explanation comes down to minutes and miles per hour.
Being that the new law [La. R.S. 32:57(J) and 268] will rely on cameras that will time how fast it takes a vehicle to get from one end of the basin to the other, motorists who cross the bridge in less than 18 minutes will receive a speeding ticket in the mail.
With the basin bridge measuring in at a total of 18.2 miles, lawmakers say the simple math shows that motorists who do the speed limit of 60 mph should not cross in less than 18 minutes (1 mile per minute). According to the KPEL report, anyone violating the law will face a very hefty fine.
When the bill was first presented by Cortez in April, he wanted to raise first-time speeding fines to $875 with repeat offenders being hit with a $2,500 fine and up to 90 days of jail time. That was amended down to a fine of double the current fine for speeding on the bridge.
Currently, violators are fined $175 to $500 for subsequent offenses.
With the potential first-time fine of $350 and $1000 for repeat offenders, motorists have been preparing for the new law by timing their trips across the basin bridge, and to say the results were concerning would be an understatement.
Brock Duplechin told me he travels the basin bridge at least twice a day in his line of work and he has timed the trek on cruise control at every speed from 60-70 mph since learning about the upcoming speed camera law.
With his cruise control set to the posted speed limit of 60 mph, Duplechin crossed the basin bridge from start to finish in 17 minutes and 48 seconds. Based on this result, he could possibly be looking at a $350 fine for doing the speed limit come August 1.
For comparison, Duplechin shared his results at 61 mph and it seems like 20 seconds were shaved off per mph that his cruise control was set at for the journey across the Atchafalaya Basin.
Of course, one person's claim isn't enough to make lawmakers reconsider or amend the upcoming speed camera law, but multiple motorists have gotten similar results.
Kelly Hutslar did her own timed test run and while she yielded different results than Duplechin, her times were within seconds of his results. With her cruise control set at 60 mph, her time clocked in at only 30 seconds over the 18-minute threshold.
Aaron Comeaux set his cruise control and clocked in at three seconds under the 18-minute mark. By the letter of the upcoming law, he would be getting a notice in the mail as well.
Shalan Bellard-Lewis shared a post a week ago claiming that she has used the basin bridge on her daily work commute for the last six years and she has yet to reach the 18-minute mark while timing her drives across the Atchafalaya.
She even noted that while driving slow in inclement weather and surrounded by traffic, the drive only took her 16 minutes.
Taylor Johnson says she timed herself doing 65 on cruise control (which is a very realistic 5 mph over the speed limit) and made it across in just over 16 minutes as well.
I think it's fair to say that, as drivers, our speeds naturally fluctuate within 5 miles per hour of the speed limit one way or the other, and Hal LeJeune says that a recent trip across the basin only took her 15 minutes at 65 mph.
Angelique Breaux commented on her status saying that with her cruise control set at the posted speed limit of 60 mph, she clocked in at 17 minutes—under the 18-minute threshold that would prevent her from getting a ticket once the new law went into effect.
Kyle Guidry says he drives the basin twice a week and when he set his cruise control to 59 mph (one mile under the speed limit) and was "only under 18 minutes by a few seconds."
The truth is, most of us won't time our commutes or set the cruise control when we cross the basin bridge, but Brittany White said she was mindful of the 60 mph speed limit, and went "with the flow of traffic" with "no weaving" or "stupid driving" and once she got off the bridge her time clocked in at 15:35.
While everyone wants to see fewer accidents on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, I honestly believe our state leadership has to make sure that the upcoming law does more good than harm for those who travel our roadways—especially that 18-mile stretch.
The last thing we need is people who travel at intentionally low speeds to avoid crossing too quickly, or putting themselves and others in a dangerous situation by pulling over on the bridge to kill time—a suggestion that someone actually made on Facebook.
As someone put it on Facebook, the math on paper simply doesn't translate to real-world results—and anyone who has gotten a speed camera ticket knows that there is no disputing a technicality.
As of right now, our sources say that there are delays in getting the camera equipment installed, but the law is still set to go into effect come August 1. As far as when authorities will begin implementing the new system is uncertain, but hopefully, they'll have a clear and fair plan in place before then.
In the meantime, be safe while traveling across the basin bridge, and on every public roadway for that matter.