The Maryland Senate has passed a bill that would allow speed cameras in school zones and construction zones. The approval of the legislation, by a 27-20 vote, came one day after the Senate had vetoed the bill authorizing the statewide use of speed cameras to apprehend violators. The House is expected to vote on the measure next week.
A number of Maryland senators had opposed the bill over concerns that the cameras were an invasion of privacy and were being used by local governments to generate revenue. In Montgomery County, where 54 speed cameras are in use, some 500,000 citations have been issued, resulting in over $16 million in fines after costs. However, supporters of the speed cameras are quick to note that they have helped reduced the number of Maryland motor vehicle crashes because they compel people to obey the legal speed limits.
Also, an examination of several locations where speed cameras have been in operation shows that the speeds that motorists operated their vehicles at dropped by 22% after cameras were installed. For example, in Chevy Chase, there are speed cameras installed in a heavily traveled area of Connecticut Avenue. Since the devices were put in place, the number of speeding motorists dropped by 73%, as did the number of auto accidents (from 67 during the last year when there were no cameras to 44). Other Maryland municipalities where speed cameras are already in use include Takoma Park, Gaithersburg, and Rockville.
The Maryland Senate bill calls for making driving 12 miles above the speed limit grounds for a speeding ticket.
In February, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety presented a number of research findings about speeding before the Maryland Senate Committee on Judicial Proceedings on Senate Bill 277. Among the findings:
• In 2007, speeding contributed to over 13,000 motor vehicle deaths.
• 24% of the deadly accidents that happened that year occurred on roads where the speed limit was 35 mph or lower.
• 88% of speeding-related deaths occur on interstate highways.
• Speeding can refer to going faster than the posted speed limit, driving faster than the weather conditions allow, or racing.
Maryland Senate Amends Speed Camera Bill to Include School Zones, WJLA.com, April 1, 2009
Senate Revives Bill to Allow Use of Technology Beyond Montgomery, Washington Post, April 3, 2009
Research on Automated Speed Enforcement, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, February 24, 2009 (PDF)
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