Speed cameras, red-light cameras — you can hate them, or just dislike them as a necessary evil. No one, us included, likes them. But they are here to stay, because they’re effective, notwithstanding the millions of dollars a year they rake in for state and local jurisdictions.

First, let’s talk about the money, then we’ll get to the effectiveness of the program, which is one reason we’re begrudgingly opposed to the full repeal floated by Frederick County Republican Sen. Michael Hough. That bill was heard by the Maryland Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee on Tuesday.

(37) comments

JHenry

The editors (and some readers) need to know about this municipal study saying that cameras don't work.

Last August the staff at the City of San Francisco MTA (SFMTA) - which operates the City's 41 red light cameras - looked at the effect the nineteen-year-old program has had upon the incidence of broadside crashes with injury.
While the report leads off with an impressive graph (Fig. 1) showing a
dramatic decrease in crashes citywide*, the intersection-by-intersection charts
for just the intersections having red light cameras (Figs. 2 thru 26) tell a
very different story: At the vast majority of those intersections, the red light camera(s) clearly had no beneficial effect. Instead, the times
when crashes dropped coincided with changes like making the yellows longer,
adding an all-red interval (both of which are cheap to do), the addition of an
arrow for left turns, or a general upgrade to the signal. (I would add that those locales where signal backboards are small, or absent, will see a big improvement just by adding backboards, or making them larger.)

*Note: The citywide graph (Fig. 1) covers only 1999 to 2011, while the notes above it say: "Red light running collisions have shown a general decrease since the EARLY 1990's...." - well before the program began. (Emphasis added.)

The SFMTA has not published the report or even distributed it to the SFMTA Board; I got it by submitting a public records request, and now have posted it on my site. To find a copy of the report, do a Google on (in quotation marks) "SFMTA Red Light Camera Annual Report 2014" and then scroll down to Set # 4 on the webpage that will come up.

StopBigBrotherMD

Speed cameras are not "necessary". The large majority of states, 35, do not use speed cameras at all. Most of us lived most of our lives without speed cameras. A recent IIHS study revealed that accidents declined on comparable roads in Virginia (where speed cameras are not used) by more than accidents declined in Montgomery County (speed camera capital of the state)

"But Hough and the bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. C. Anthony Muse, a Prince George’s County Democrat, raise some good questions, ones we’d like answered. At the hearing, Hough said some municipalities, Frederick included, voted to place speed cameras on roads the same day speed limits on those roads were lowered."

Well? What's the answer? Because you see, local governments DON'T answer questions like that. They DON'T answer complaints about the fact that in many jurisdictions like Montgomery County, defendants receive NO DUE PROCESS and are all PRESUMED GUILTY. They don't answer the fact that it is literally possible for someone to be found guilty in court when they were not even

If an innocent person were on trial for murder, and the court said that the only way he could be found not guilty would be to prove that someone else did it, would that be acceptable? Because that is EXACTLY what jurisdictions like Montgomery County try to do with speed cameras cases. Supporters of speed cameras won't answer questions about things like that.

Fredmd21704

if you don't like the camera's, then don't break the law. once they stop giving out tickets, they'll go away, but since you probably like to drive 45 in a 25 thru the neighborhoods are the reason why they'll never go away.

vicdavy

Fred,I was thinking the same thing! Anyone who has even a semblance of understanding of the Laws of Physics along with driving experience knows most drivers today don't have a clue!

StopBigBrotherMD

The presumption of guilt is intrinsic to the nature of automated enforcement. It is no wonder proponents of cameras simply accuse people who oppose them of just wanting to speed, rather than answering the actual concerns that were raised. You do know that Baltomore falsely accused thousands of motorists? And you do know that with the current system you can be accused and found guilty of speeding even if you were not in the car, even when it is working exactly as designed? But I guess everyone who objects to that just wants to speed in school zones.

vicdavy

You delight in laying down laws,
Yet you delight more in breaking them.

richardlyons

Hough, a pro-crime Republican. Gotta love it.

jgrose79

Concealed carry creates a safer environment with lower crime. I'd like to see one democrat who hates guns actually follow statistics and scientific research for a change. Yet when it comes to speed cameras they seem to be fine because it statistically seems to decrease speeders? They feel more safe? So do people realize these cameras are up and avoid those places or drive slow through them on and to start speeding again only 5 feet after the camera? Do folks use spray on plate blockers to keep the cameras from seeing their plate? Do people not drive fast elsewhere? Sure they do. Everyone on. This people commenting here break the speed laws every day. Personally I could care less because I try to follow the law. I don't even think they should have to warn you. Put them anywhere and everywhere want. Driving is a privilege, not a right. How about these same folks start allowing me to carry in MD because its a right snd statistically it helps lower crime and robberies?

EZRider

I'd also like to see "texting and driving" cameras - with hefty fines.

vicdavy

[thumbup]

Fredmd21704

then what about eating while driving, drinking soda while driving, etc.....

Fredmd21704

if you do not care for the camera's, then obey the law.

vicdavy

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cogtooth

You can obey the law, but still get a ticket given by an inattentive radar operator.

vicdavy

Photo Tickets do not have a operator!

Fredmd21704

yes they do, its a little monkey inside the box ;)

Fredmd21704

well that was the most incorrect thing i read all day. do below 5 mph's above the limit, you won't get a speed camera. the people who are getting tickets, are going over 14 mph over the speed limit.

StopBigBrotherMD

Just Google ' 'Baltimore Speed Camera Errors" for proof that cameras can and frequently are wrong.

Aslan19

While it is true that revenue received from speed and red light cameras is going down it is not due to the fact that people are driving safer. It is due to the fact that people know where the cameras are and are driving safer AROUND THE CAMERAS. So we have succeeded in creating tiny little pockets of "safety" around our city and county. Isn't that wonderful! All it has cost us is taking the concept of innocent until proven guilty and throwing it out the window.....

vicdavy

Asslan Apparently you have never had someone you care killed by a Speeder!

ReadPhred

And if that pocket safety is around a school or a dangerous intersection that had a history of accidents, good. And if you're not speeding or running a light, it won't hurt you. By your own admission, people are driving safer at least in that pocket of safety.

cogtooth

At least with a speed camera, it is only a monetary penalty with proof of the infraction given. Having been ticketed for the second time with radar picking up adjacent speeding cars, you are guilty and it is up to you to futilely prove your innocence. Good luck fighting the ticket in court, not to mention all the income you will lose from work when you take the time off. It is said that bright colored cars make nice targets for the radar officer, but just as bad is a white car surrounded by multiple other white cars with an officer who can't tell the difference, and of course won't admit the error. Pretty scarey when someone with authority and a gun threatens you, when you point out his error. Give me a camera ticket any day over that recent experience.

MD1756

Additionally there wouldn't be as much of an issue if the speed limits matched the roads, not 25 mph on a country road with very little pedestrian traffic and wide grassy areas for them to walk on.

vicdavy

As a retired Highway Surveyor, I will tell you that there are Scientific reasons for Speed Limits, sight distant and grade,as well as other considerations. So if you prefer to speed then prepare to get ticketed for the safety of the folks who understand the Laws of Physics!

MD1756

In MoCo, they have the cameras every where and it is not just to slow people down for safety. One example is the speed zone on Woodfield School Rd, a side street (that a police officer lives on). The camera has only been up twice in probably over a year. There are a few houses where the camera is but they are further from the road and further apart from each other than on the main road Woodfield Rd (Rte 124) which has a 30 - 40 mph limit. Then there is the speed camera for a mega church near MoCo air park. They don't have the speed zone up the street where there is a county grade school, where it might make sense. It is by the mega church and is labeled a school zone yet I've never seen any school children anywhere near the road at the church unlike at the county school which does not have a school zone or speed camera. That speed zone is for a stretch of about 600 - 800 feet then the speed goes back up. Definitely a speed trap meant to serve the County at the whim of a mega church that wants to make it easier for their members to enter a significant commuter road on Sundays and on Wednesday nights. MoCo should have done better before issuing the permit for the church.

Fredmd21704

that area has to do with the fence is in front of the school which is 45 mph's, and no fence in front of the other private school/church which doesn't have a fence. Yes, that is a private school, not just a church.

pilotguy299

I don't like the idea of speed & red light cameras, and think that they really are nothing more than a way for the city to get more money. That said, the areas are pretty well marked, and you have to not be paying attention if you don't see the warning signs before tripping the cameras. A female FPD officer told me that she had tripped a red light camera on 7th street in her personal car, so maybe it is too easy to get a ticket.

vicdavy

So a FPD officer can break the law and not get a ticket? You're promoting the "Don't Tread on Me" Libertarian BS,I prefer "don't kill me with your car cause you're a self-centered incompetent driver" or "Don't Run Over Me"!

pilotguy299

I think you are reading a bit in to what I posted. I never said that she didn't get a ticket. Just that it might be too easy to get a red light ticket. She's a pretty ethical person, so I am sure she paid it like she told me she was going to.

vicdavy

I guess she is and I guess she got a ticket and paid it,but based on some FPD officers I've known they are some who think they are above the law.

pilotguy299

I know that some of them are, and seen some of them act that way. She's one of the most stand-up people I've ever met, and don't believe that she feels that way about herself.

gary4books

I was photographed doing exactly 12 miles over the limit on Ridge Road by Damascus and never saw a sign and was confident I was in a 40 mile per hour zone. My mistake. But where were the signs? I paid. Lessons can cost.

vicdavy

gary[thumbup]"Honesty is such a lonely word"

gary4books

[smile]

shiftless88

I would make two suggestions. First, could the placement of these cameras be made by a small committee made up of city staff, police and community members? Second, could a maximum number be set, perhaps also by that committee? This would help insure that the locations weren't picked just to maximize revenue, and to help avoid the temptation of jacking up the number when revenue goes down. Right now there is little to no control nor transparency.

vicdavy

Good Editorial. They are effective! I have gotten photo tickets and I deserved them. Drivers today are oblivious of the dangers they create when they speed,tailgate and drive aggressively! My Dad was an aviator and he taught to me drive, as if I was flying an airplane. He was a real pain in the butt! When I was 16 I didn't get it, but I thank God today for his lessons. The traffic today is much worse then when I started driving and it takes more competence then ever to be safe. It seems as if the majority of drivers have no strategy when they drive. Following too closely leaves no escape route if something goes wrong. Speeding leaves less time to prevent an accident as well as increasing the impact. The overall mentality of today's drivers seems to be competition over cooperation. I observe the bad drivers and I used to think, when I saw a crazy fool I would think, 'probably some teenage boy'. Nope! Young women seem to be more aggressive and spatially challenged then anybody on the road. I am also surprised to see women with little ones in the car driving like they are Nuts. I sometimes wonder if folks who are Christians,with "Jesus Saves" bumper stickers are telling me "if I kill you don't worry". There is no stereotype on Bad Drivers, Men, Women,Young,Old, Ethnicity or Race. It comes down to Equal Opportunity Bad Drivers!

gary4books

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