In addition, AAA pointed to the case of a driver who received a citation from a college park camera who had a device electronically records the speed of his car, which indicated he was traveling far slower than the speed recorded on the citation and was not speeding at the time of the violation. The driver's citation was dismissed in court on a technicality, with the judge refusing to rule one way or the other on the accuracy of the camera.
AAA has sometimes publicly argued against specific speed camera locations which are 'cash cows'. However AAA is not an anti-speed camera organization. Their revenue generating business does not come from public advocacy but from their travel agency and insurance businesses. As such AAA is not serving any particular 'agenda' or financial interest by arguing against these particular cameras, as Optotraffic and their clients (who DO have an agenda to make money from the cameras) might like the public to believe. In fact when statewide speed cameras were being discussed in the Maryland General Assembly in 2009 AAA testified that they supported the legislation, only arguing that more restrictions be added to the law. Most of the restrictions AAA requested in their testimony were either not implemented or have been circumvented by local governments.
College Park issued over 60,000 citations last year worth approximately $2.4million. Under their contract with Optotraffic 40% of the revenue goes to Optotraffic. A prohibitions on paying companies based on the number of tickets issued has been ignored and successfully circumvented by College Park and most other municipalities in the state simply by not using the word "operating" to describe what the contractors do, regardless of how much control they have over the devices, their maintenance, placement, and calibration. Because College Park does not maintain its own police force, the have contracted Prince George's County police officers to
Optotraffic cameras are currently used in at least 14 municipalities in Maryland. The reports of errors by this type of camera are widespread, have arisen in different areas independently for some time. Errors have been previously reported by Optotraffic cameras in the mainstream press in Forest Heights and Brentwood a year ago. Citizens in the town of Cheverly independently raised accuracy issues about that town's cameras, confronting the town council in a public hearing (Cheverly's response to the complaints was later plagiarized by Forest Heights). Citizens have independently written to the Gazette about the errors. We've also reported on such errors in College Park and New Carrolton, and have received other reports of errors from Berwynn Heights and Riverdale Park as well. We were contacted by 2 other individuals claiming errors from College Park cameras who did not wish to go public.
Most people who receive questionable citations probably assume their only options are the two stated on the citation: pay the ticket (meaning the complain will never be heard) or take a full day off work and challenge it in court. In fact many people do challenge citations in court claiming inaccurate speeds, but typically this does not come to the attention of either the press or elected officials. Most such defendants typically have no legal experience or knowledge about the systems with which to build a defense. Speed camera cases are heard in a proceeding where the burden of proof has been explicitly lowered under Maryland law below that of any other type of violation (ie the verdict is based on whether the judge believes it is 51% likely the car was exceeding the speed limit, not 'beyond reasonable doubt'), and evidence may legally be admitted against defendants 'without authentication' by authorities (according to the wording of state law).
StopBigBrotherMD previous reported on the possible mechanisms of errors from these types of cameras, including a video demonstration with a scale model (our belief is that the problem is a design flaw, rather than a 'calibration' issue with one or two specific cameras). We've also demonstrated how the certification and testing of Optotraffic cameras used in some jurisdictions may be insufficient to ensure accuracy.
Prince George's county has approved a contract with Optotraffic and will begin deploying 72 Optotraffic cameras on August 22, creating a large number of new school zones never previously designated or marked as such for speed camera use.