Saturday, July 31, 2010

Montgomery County Traffic Fatalities Double as Cameras Increase

(Updated 10/26/2010)
Montgomery County reported its 27th traffic fatality of 2010 on in June. Tragically this is more than double the 13 traffic deaths the county experienced in the same period of January 1,2009 through June 28, 2009. (Information from the Gazette )

In June 2009 Montgomery County touted a drop in traffic fatalities for the first few months of the year, claiming the county's speed camera program was largely responsible, and the head of the program Captain Damskey crediting the cameras with having a "long-lasting, profound effect on our roadways". The county downplayed certain facts however, including the fact that traffic fatalities had increased in the county from 2007 to 2008, and that there had been an unusually large nationwide decline in traffic fatalities occurring both from 2007 to 2008 and 2008 to 2009. In March 2010 the NHTSA released data showing that there had been a nationwide reduction in traffic fatalities of 8.9% from 2008 to 2009, following a similar drop the prior year, with an overall 22% reduction in nationwide fatalities from 2005 to 2009.

A preliminary report on traffic fatalities by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that national traffic fatalities dropped 9.2% in the first half of 2010.  Montgomery County's results of increasing accidents are therefore an exception to a nationwide trend for decreasing accidents during this six month period. The NHTSA did not credit the use of automated traffic enforcement for the nationwide trend, as speed cameras are still only used in a small minority of states.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Brentwood Offers Speed Camera Citation Refunds

The following was recently posted by police to a local police blog and one or more local listservs on Friday July 23rd:
"Due to an error we are offering to void speed camera citations that were issued between June 24th thru July 13th, 2010. Please email your citation number to chiefbrentwoodpd@juno.com with Citation Amnesty Program written in the subject line.

Any speed citations issued before or after the dates listed are not included in this amnesty program
.

This program does not include or involve speed camera citations that were issued by the City of Mount Rainier.
"

We advise anyone receiving one of these citations to take advantage of the city's offer to correct their error.

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Update 7/29/2010: The Washington Examiner has followed up on this story. When asked Brentwood Mayor Xzavier Montgomery-Wright attributed the refund to an "internal error". "I want to end this [phone] call and not respond," she said, declining to identify the town's camera contractor. "The people calling the press and telling them about this are just trying to shut down the [camera] program."
The Examiner received conflicting responses from the town police Chief and the camera vendor, Optotraffic/Sigma Space.

8/16: The Gazette reported on August 5th that the town plans to refund all citations. 3500 citations were apparently improperly approved during the 3 week period. However we have been informed by another source that this may take a very long time since the Brentwood police are understaffed.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Charles County To Get Speed Cameras

On June 15 2010, with little fanfare or debate, the Charles County commissioners approved the use of speed cameras. A public hearing was held on June 15 to discuss the ordinance (Bill#2010-10), however no members of the public other than county officials were present to speak. The county website shows that the legislation was unanimously approved the same day. The 'press releases' section of the county website did not include a posting for the hearing or for the passage of the legislation.

The legislation goes into effect July 30th. Before deploying cameras the county will need to sign a contract with a speed camera vendor. The legislation states that the cameras will only be used in "school zones", however in most of the rest of the state local governments have simply created new school zones solely for the use of speed cameras regardless of whether those locations were ever considered school zones previously (despite published guidelines from the SHA stating that this should not be done).

Concerned citizens can contact the board of commissioners :
email: commissioner@charlescounty.org
mail: 200 Baltimore Street
P.O. Box 2150, La Plata, MD 20646
phone: 301-645-0550 . 301-870-3000

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

DC Adds New Cameras, Revenues Surge

DC is on track for another record year of speed camera revenues. Data released by the DC police show that DC speed cameras brought in $24,828 in the first 8 months of FY2010, compared with $20,228,725 for the same 8 months in FY09. Based on this the district is in an excellent position to exceed year $33million in revenue and 553,900 citations from the cameras last year. Much of this revenue has come from Maryland residents.

Dc claims the cameras are not for revenue (as they all say) and have reduced speeding., But AAA spokesman John Townsend had a different view on the cameras success, saying the cameras have not modified driver behavior: "It seems that the District has been paying lip service to traffic safety, but people realize it's all about the revenue and they're not changing their behavior." he quoted to the Washington Examiner.

To keep the cash flowing DC is adding 12 new speed camera locations, many of which are located near the border with Maryland. The following new camera locations were announced earlier in July. Pay particular mind to the addition of three camera sites on I-295.

New mobile radar locations
* 3500 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE (North)
* 3500 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE (South)
* 1400 Alabama Ave. SE (East)
* 1400 Alabama Ave. SE (West).
* 5200 Southern Ave. SE (South)
* 3100 North Capitol St. NE (North).
* Interstate-295 at Exit 1 SW (South)
* 4100 South Dakota Ave. NE (North).
* Suitland Pkwy SE (.9m south of Stanton Road eastbound)
* Suitland Pkwy SE (.2m south of Stanton Road westbound)

New "work zone: camera locations
* I-295 at Eastern Avenue NE (North)
* I-295 at Eastern Avenue NE (South)

With the new additions the District has 10 fixed location cameras plus 35 mobile locations patrolled by 12 camera units.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Arizona Shuts Down Freeway Scameras

As of midnight last night the State of Arizona shut down all of its freeway speed cameras. Governor Jan Brewer (R) decided to end the state's two year photo enforcement contract with Redflex which her predecessor, Janet Napolitano (D) signed. The state will remove a total of 76 fixed and mobile cameras from Arizona state highways by labor day.

The move was largely in response to a year long effort by the group CameraFraud.com whose slogan 'The Cameras Are Coming Down" is finally coming to pass. Additionally, the program began to lose profitability when many drivers learned that Arizona law required in person service of citations and refused to pay. Governor Napolitano (now serving as Secretary of Homeland Security) had previously predicted the cameras would bring in $90million in revenue, but in fact over half of the citations issued remain uncollected and unenforceable.

Several municipal programs still continue to operate in Arizona, and CameraFRAUD has pledged to bring the cameras down in those cities one by one, bypassing the legislature with local referendums.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Princess Anne Considering Speed Cams

WMDT47 News has reported that the town of Princess Anne(Somerset County) is considering creating a speed camera program. The County Commissioners will be discussing the matter in their July 26th work session. The town would need to pass an ordinance authorizing the use of speed monitoring systems prior to their use. It is unclear whether the date announced constitutes a 'public hearing' for such legislation. We could find no mention of speed cameras anywhere on the town's website and no agenda was listed on the town website for the meeting listed in the WMDT story.

Residents who wish to state their views should contact the town commissioners NOW and not wait until AFTER the cameras are deployed to do so.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New Forest Heights Speed Cameras Enrage Residents

 The Gazette has reported that residents in the Prince George's County town of Forest Heights have taken issue with newly installed speed cameras on state highway 210.


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Update 5/19/2011: Please read our Full Investigation into Forest Heights Speed Camera Errors, learn how these citations have been failing to hold up in court, and see the town and their contractor's desperate attempts to hide the truth from the public.
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The cameras are located on Indian Head Highway/ Route 210 just south of the intersection with Livingston Road in Forest Heights. The speed limit drops from 40-mph to 35mph immediately before the cameras. Some residents claim that "the town ignored recommendations — although not mandates — by the Maryland State Highway Administration not to install the cameras on a hill or near traffic signals, highway ramps or speed-transition zones, as the two cameras are."

The article states that the town created a 1/2 mile long new school zone on highway 210 (just as many other towns and cities have been doing), since the town is only authorized under state law to use the cameras in school zones. Residents noted that the highway is not close to crosswalks, has limited egress, no schools in the immediate area, and leads to a ramp for the Capital Beltway. There are two elementary schools in Forest Heights, but neither one is along highway 210. The town also spent $10,000 (of taxpayer money) on a 'feasibility study' that determined the highway 210 location was adequate "because of high traffic volume".

Mayor Andrea McCutcheon claims that the speed cameras are justified in that location because "the majority of drivers are exceeding the speed limit", even though by definition that means the speed limit is NOT set at the 85th percentile speed which is the recommended speed limit by many standard traffic engineering practices.