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Clicking Away in Montgomery As Md. Opens Up To Speed Cameras

There's nothing like a speed camera to get drivers hot. Some residents like them - at least on their own quiet streets. But they also loathe them - at least when they get nabbed commuting. There's also the back and forth over money, with some critics saying the cameras are just there to milk residents for revenues, or to funnel cash to private camera operators.

On Tuesday, Montgomery's Office of Legislative Oversight dumped a truck load of data in the middle of the heated debate. Its basic finding: the number of crashes near camera sites dropped 28 percent. Crashes averaged 462 a year near camera sites in the four years before the program began; that dropped to 329 after the cameras went up.

"What is even more compelling is that serious collisions involving an injury or fatality declined by 39 percent," County Executive Ike Leggett (D) said in a statement. "Speed cameras are protecting pedestrians and other motorists by curbing aggressive driving."

"The jury is in," agreed Council President Phil Andrews.

Still, the struggle over the right balance between cameras and drivers continues in Maryland.

As a state law takes affect Thursday allowing all counties to implement speed camera programs, Montgomery's own program will have to be slightly rolled back to comply with the new rules.

Starting Oct. 1, cameras in school zones can only give tickets between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays, not 24 hours a day each day.

Capt. John Damskey, director of the traffic division for Montgomery's police, said the county will collect data from those cameras in the off hours to see if drivers crank up their speed again.

"When they tell me I have to turn off school cameras, I don't think that's making it safer," Damskey said.

Here's the full report:

Speed Camera Report From Montgomery Office of Legislative Oversight

By Michael Laris  |  September 29, 2009; 6:01 PM ET
Categories:  Michael Laris , Montgomery County  
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Comments

Damsky is so arrogant. He always refer to this as "his" speed camera program. Note that he says "When they tell me *I* have to turn off the cameras..."

Don't flatter yourself Damsky. The State Legislature didn't say *you* had to turn anything off. The cameras have to be turned off outside of school hours. Weather you, other MCPD staff or (hopefully) your replacement do it is really irrelevant.

Stop being so self-important.

Posted by: --Secret-- | September 29, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse

The jury is not "in." The report is suspicious, in that they compared one year's worth of data to an average of the previous 5 year's data. Look at any accident stats and you'll see that they vary naturally from year to year. But not posting the data for the individual years 2002-2007, the county is probably hiding something. My guess is that the 2008 numbers are fairly close to one of the numbers from one of the previous years. Show us ALL OF THE DATA please!

Posted by: photoradarscam | September 30, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

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