Monday, April 30, 2012

Glenarden Places School Zone Cameras on Block with no School

WJLA has reported that the City of Glenarden has placed a "school zone" speed camera on a block of Glenarden Parkway nowhere near any school, after some local residents and AAA took notice of the site.  The closest school to the camera site is approximately 1/2 mile "as the crow flies" from the camera, the absolute limit permitted under state law, but is farther by driving distance.  The small town of Glenarden's speed cameras have issued $750,000 worth of tickets so far.

The fact that local governments have been creating new school zones solely for the purpose of deploying "school zone" speed camera may be news to some, but not to this site.  Baltimore and New Carrollton started the practice in 2009, which has since been copied by many jurisdictions in Prince George's County and other parts of the state.  School zones MAY be created by a jurisdiction anywhere within a 1/2 mile radius of any school (a huge geographic area which for a single school can sometimes includes all major roads in a small towns, and in the case of Baltimore City approximately 80% of the city meets this definition).  However under state law and SHA guidelines school zones do not automatically exist in this entire are unless they are designated by official action and school zone signage.  Vast numbers of new school zones have thus been created on profitable commuter routes since "school zone" speed cameras were authorized.  In some cases speed limits were also lowered in the newly designated zones.

Telling the public that speed cameras were about school safety was helpful in muting public opposition to speed cameras, and few ordinary citizens immediately realized it would result in entire towns and cities being designated as school zones when speed cameras were first approved by the state.