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Many Concerned About Speed Cameras

And not just about getting caught. I said in Sunday's Dr. Gridlock column that if the rest of Maryland gets the kind of program now operated by Montgomery County, drivers could feel confident in the integrity of the program.

Lon Anderson of AAA Mid-Atlantic who is often speaking up on behalf of travelers in our region called to say that he supports the idea of expanding the program statewide to school zones and road work sites, but has some concerns.

Anderson separates camera programs into two categories: The ones that are concerned with safety and the ones that are concerned with raising money. He supports the former and condemns the latter. Montgomery County is a decent example of the former, while Chevy Chase and the District would represent the latter, he says.

Marylanders need to pay attention to the bill working its way through the General Assembly. Anderson says it could use some tightening to make sure it's a safety program. Key things to watch: How loose is the definition of "school zone," and what restrictions are placed on the use of the camera revenue.

By Robert Thomson  |  April 6, 2009; 4:03 PM ET
Categories:  Safety , Transportation Politics  
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Comments

I am all for public safety, but am still glad that I have my red light / speed cam detector. www.gpsangel.com

Posted by: macuser25 | April 6, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse


The problem is that these programs assume that these cameras are reliable and never make mistakes. They do, and innocent drivers are ticketed all of the time. These programs assume that the camera companies are honest - they often operate the cameras with no regular audit program. Camera vendors have been found guilty of falsifying court documents and altering equipment, as well as breaking state and federal laws. Many programs are actually illegal (including unconstitutional) to begin with and due process rights are severely diminished. Cameras are also an invasion of privacy, and not in the way that most people think... We have the right to NOT be surveilled by cameras attached to identification and tracking systems. In many places, a large majority of drivers are exempt or stand a greatly reduced chance of getting cited by a camera, thus unfairly targeting those who do not hide their face and drive their own cars registered to themselves. It's also been proven in many cases to actually INCREASE the accident rates in locations where cameras are installed. Everyone needs to educate themselves on this issue. http://PhotoRadarScam.com.

Posted by: photoradarscam | April 6, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Lon is completely correct. Too many jurisdictions use the cover of "safety" to really just promote their own attempts to increase revenue. Chevy Chase is a perfect example. Remember the flashing yellow light in DC that occasionally turned red, issuing thousands and thousands of tickets (which eventually got overturned in court)? This isn't just for speed and red light cameras - also speed traps on highways (as many rural jurisdictions have done for decades).

My beef with red light cameras is that they INCREASE the accident rate and property damage and injuries over the status quo. The most effective method (and far and away, cheapest) to increase safety is to increase the yellow light times by 1 second. If the NHTSA mandated longer yellow times, based on 85th percentile speed, we could avoid hundreds of millions of dollars of damage, plus countless injuries and deaths. THAT is the real tragedy of red light cameras. Wasted lives and dollars just for a few bucks.

Posted by: ssolomo | April 6, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

According to the text of SB277, the work zone speed cameras are placed on any road "that is AN EXPRESSWAY or a controlled access highway"
and "on which the speed limit, established using generally accepted traffic engineering practices, is 45 MILES PER HOUR OR GREATER."
and can be used "REGARDLESS OF WHETHER WORKERS ARE PRESENT"

Translation: Maryland will have speed cameras on 55mph freeways. Out of state drivers would be advised to give the "Free State" wide berth starting October 1, 2009 and spend their money elsewhere.

Posted by: afpre42 | April 6, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

"The most effective method (and far and away, cheapest) to increase safety is to increase the yellow light times by 1 second. If the NHTSA mandated longer yellow times, based on 85th percentile speed, we could avoid hundreds of millions of dollars of damage, plus countless injuries and deaths."

From a traffic engineering perspective, you are absolutely dead-on correct. Even more effective is increasing the all-red interval...this way drivers don't treat a long yellow as an extension of the green, and cross traffic is held back for an extra second. Only problem with this is that at congested intersections, every second counts, and that one second can be the difference between a barely acceptable and a gridlocked intersection.

Posted by: thetan | April 7, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Whiners! Get out of your cars and start taking public transportation.

Posted by: KilmarockCommuter | April 7, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

better yet, follow the law, yellow does not mean speed up

Posted by: nall92 | April 7, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm still hoping that PG county follows suit and installs their own speed cameras. Cars who ignore the crosswalks and drive 55MPH on Route 1 are a threat to pedestrians in our neighborhood!

Posted by: stuckman | April 7, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

"The most effective method (and far and away, cheapest) to increase safety is to increase the yellow light times by 1 second. If the NHTSA mandated longer yellow times, based on 85th percentile speed, we could avoid hundreds of millions of dollars of damage, plus countless injuries and deaths."

What kind of "solution" is that? The 85th percentile speed is almost never equal to the posted speed limit, and is in reality 5-10 mph (or more) above it on roads like 410, Kennilworth, Van Dorn, Braddock, Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase, Route 29, etc. It won't be long before drivers figure out the lengthened yellow phase, and now they are entering the intersection at an even higher rate of speed trying to beat the light.

The idea of lengthening the red is a better one and it doesn't reward speeding.

Posted by: bikes-everywhere | April 8, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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