Driving in Baltimore? Smile, you’re on camera! The Baltimore Sun reports that speed cameras have returned to the city, this time with stricter regulations designed to protect drivers.
Speed cameras in Baltimore City are nothing new. In fact, the city has tried—and failed—twice before to launch speed camera programs as a deterrent to reckless driving, and to catch and fine drivers exceeding the speed limit. However, technology problems resulted in many drivers receiving tickets in error (including a car stopped at a red light that was flagged as speeding, reports The Sun), and in 2013, the Baltimore speed camera program was put in park.
Now, speed cameras are back with what program officials say is improved technology, along with stricter laws governing their use.
The city will operate 10 portable speed cameras near schools and high pedestrian traffic areas throughout Baltimore, based on accident data—with plans to expand the network to include 20 speed cameras, 10 red light cameras, and a system designed to enforce a prohibition on trucks travelling on certain streets. Cameras will be on whether or not school is in session, with signs alerting Baltimore drivers of the speed cameras’ presence. The system will be in testing mode for one month with no tickets issued to drivers, just warnings in the mail. After the 30-day testing period concludes, drivers caught speeding will receive a ticket and a fine for $40.
Public safety advocates say the cameras, when operating property, are an effective deterrent to speeding and reckless drivers. Opponents say the speed camera system is more of a revenue generator for the city, which unfairly targets drivers who may not be breaking the law.
However in April 2014, the Maryland General Assembly approved legislation providing more protection for consumers from receiving erroneous tickets—including eliminating a bounty system for contractors issuing tickets, and putting ombudsmen in place to review tickets for errors rather than having ticket recipients go directly to court. The new system will have a dedicated staff to maintain quality control, system planners said. The new speed cameras are also portable and can be moved if needed, unlike the past cameras which were on fixed locations.
A spokesperson for AAA-Mid Atlantic told The Sun that the motorists’ group is hopeful the changes will lead to a better system. Some drivers in Baltimore may remain skeptical. But we’ll all be better off not speeding in school zones (or anywhere else, for that matter).
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