Thursday, December 11, 2008

AAA Calls for the Removal of Chevy Chase Speed Cameras

A representative of AAA Mid-Atlantic is calling for some of the speed cameras in the Village of Chevy Chase to be removed, saying "AAA supports these cameras as long as they are for safety. But we don't think that these cameras on Connecticut Avenue are doing a lot for safety, however, we do think they are doing a lot for the coffers of Chevy Chase Village."

AAA sometimes advocates drivers rights, but also sells insurance and lobbies for the insurance industry. AAA had previously given its support to the law authorizing Montgomery County's Safe Speed Program. However a rift developed when details of Montgomery County's illegal contract arrangement with ACS were revealed.

According to the Geoff Biddle, village manager for Chevy Chase, the village's speed camera program racked up $1.58 million in revenue during fiscal year 2008, from just two fixed cameras and two mobile cameras that operate in the Village. While legally required to be spent only on public safety, that is poorly defined. The minutes of Chevy Chase Village meetings show board members saying that portions of almost every item in the Village operating budget could be paid with speed camera funds, and show that fund being used for such things as a new locker room and a new Segway. An effort was made by the legislature in 2008 to remove that constraint completely.