Saturday, January 28, 2012

Legislation to End Workerless Workzone Cameras Reintroduced

Legislation has been introduced to the general assembly which would remove a provision of state law which currently allows freeway "workzone" speed monitoring systems to be used "regardless of whether workers are present".  The proposed legislation (Senate Bill 57   and House Bill 326) would allow the cameras only when a worker is present on the roadway, median divider, or shoulder within or adjacent to the work zone. 

The proposed legislation was introduced last year as Senate Bill 30 and was championed by Senator Jim Brochin.  The bill was killed in committee.  This year the legislation is being sponsored by Senators Brochin(D, District 42), Jacobs(R, District 34), Kittleman(R, District 9), and Stone(R, District 6), and in the house by a bipartisan group of 46 lawmakers : Delegates Frank (R, District 42), Aumann (R, District 42), Bates (R, District 9A), Beitzel(R, District 1A), Boteler(D, District 8), Bromwell(R, District 8), Cluster(R, District 8), Conaway(D, District 40), DeBoy(D, District 12A), Dwyer(R, District 31 ), Eckardt(R, District 37B ), Elliott(R, District 4B ), Fisher(R, District 27B), George(R, District 30), Glass(R, District 34A), Guzzone(D, District 13), Hogan(R, District 3A), Hough(3B, District 3B), Impallaria(R, District 7), Jacobs(R, District 36), Kach(R, District 5B), Kelly(D, District 1B), Kipke(R, District 31), McConkey(R, District 33A), McDermott(R, District 38B), McDonough(R, District 7), Miller(R, District 9A), Minnick(D, District 6), Mitchell(D, District 44), Morhaim(D, District 11), Myers(R, District 1C), Norman(R, District 35A), Olszewski(D, District 6), Otto(R, 38A), Parrott(R, District 2B), Ready(R, District 5A), Robinson(D, District 40), Schuh(R, District 31), Schulz(R, District 4A), Serafini(R, District 2A), Smigiel(R, District 36), Stocksdale(R, District 5A), Szeliga(7, District 7), Vitale(R, District 33A), Weir(D, District 6), Wood(D, District 29A).

Friday, January 27, 2012

Photographing Cops in Maryland a Risky Proposition

Police departments in Maryland can photograph motorists with impunity.  But as one photo journalist learned, police in Montgomery County have a serious double standard when it comes to citizens photographing cops. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Studies Refute Insurance and Camera Company Red Light Camera Claims

New studies from Kansas City and Florida debunk claims by the insurance industry and photo enforcement companies that red light cameras reduce accidents.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Baltimore City Speed Camera Issues Ticket To the Dead

WBFF reports that a Speed Camera in Baltimore City issued a citation to an Anne Arundel County man who passed away over 3 years previously.  (9/28/2012: The original story has been archived but can be seen here).

The citation was issued by a camera on Sinclair Lane in Baltimore to Michael Keith for traveling 43mph in a 30mph zone on November 25, 2011 and demanded a $40 payment.  Unfortunately Mr Keith was unable to pay the fine or contest the citation, having passed away in 2008.  The family of the deceased stated that neither the tag nor the pickup truck shown on the citation were ever owned by Michael.  The family was originally concerned about identity theft.  After police were contacted, they stated that the tag was in fact not even valid. "The fact that my son passed away in May of 2008 and something like this is surfacing in November of 2011... which it's really against his name.  It's not right. It's not something that should happen." stated the mother of the deceased.

The camera, owned by ACS State and Local Solutions (a division of Xerox Corporation) is located at one of approximately 142 sites published by the city of Baltimore.  Baltimore officials, like all jurisdictions using speed cameras, claim that all photo citations are carefully reviewed before being issued.

In February 2011, WBALTV reported that a police officer who had been deceased for months had 'signed' 2000 red light camera citations after his death.  Also in February 2011, StopBigBrotherMD reported on another instance where a Baltimore City camera cited the wrong vehicle, where the image was so dark the vehicle was barely visible.  In that instance it took the motorist 7 months to get the flag cleared from his registration at the MVA, eventually telling StopBigBrotherMD that he would seek to register his car in another state to avoid these types of problems in the future.  In April of 2010, WBFF news reported that a speed camera in the city of Baltimore had mistakenly issued over 900 citations when it was configured to the wrong speed limit.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

National Camera News: Iowa Town Blames "Bermuda Triangle" For Speed Camera Errors

Engineers from Speed camera vendor Redspeed have blamed erroneous speed measurements recorded on the town of Fort Dodge, IA on an electromagnetic anomaly dubbed by the police chief as the "Bermuda Triangle". 
"Police Chief Tim Carmody called the spot in the 1200 block of Sixth Avenue North the ''Bermuda Triangle." It's a spot where drivers of school buses, big panel trucks and similar vehicles have been clocked speeding by the city's mobile speed camera and radar unit even though they were obeying the 25 mph speed limit.

The problem was brought to the attention of the City Council on Dec. 19 by drivers who had wrongly received tickets in that area.

Carmody said Monday police officers did extensive testing after those complaints were received. He said they found that for a fraction of a second the speed of a large vehicle was doubled on the radar system in that block."
Now is this the part where they tell everyone "Don't speed and you won't get a ticket"?

Read the complete story on The Messenger

Sunday, January 8, 2012

2012 to See Addition of Numerous Camera Sites

Numerous municipalities and county governments in Maryland are planning to expand or implement new camera programs this coming year.

Prince Georges is planning on adding as many as six new cameras each month this year, with the goal of having 72 by July, according to the Washington Examiner.  In the short period of time the county's current 20 cameras have been in place(since September) they have issued over 93,425 citations (face value $3.7million).

Baltimore County is planning on adding additional camera sites to its, so far, relatively small program. Under the current contract, speed camera vendor ACS State and Local Solutions (a division of Xerox Corp) receives close to 90% of the revenue, prompting some council members to seek a renegotiation of the contract terms.

In addition, other jurisdictions such as Hagerstown and Mount Airy are currently considering in the process of implementing speed camera programs, hoping for their own cut of what is now an over $77milion industry statewide.  Hagerstown approved a contract with Brekford Corp to provide up to 16 cameras in exchange for 39% of the revenue.  "Where not already established by the state, the city will still need to define its school zones and speed limits in those zones though another ordinance" Hagerstown Police Chief Smith said -- and indication that the designation of new school zones never previously marked as such (what has recently become an extremely common practice), or even altering existing speed limits (almost certainly downwards if other jurisdictions are any indication), may be on the table in that city.

Mount Airy raised a similar possibility of both creating new school zones and altering some speed limits as it began discussing the implementation of speed cameras. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

DC Issuing Parking Tickets to Motorists Who Paid

The Washington Examiner reports that the Districts 'pay by phone' parking system is causing numerous drivers to get parking tickets even though they paid.
Annandale resident Kristin Stone and her daughter found a ticket on their car last week, even after accidentally paying twice for the space outside Arena Stage. Customer service at ParkMobile, the company that runs the service, was unhelpful, they said.
"I was pretty upset. I was very frustrated," Stone said. "It wasn't working, and I thought they should make it right. If they want it to succeed in D.C., they should be taking all measures."
Stone's daughter Elizabeth said she's already received three tickets after paying by phone, two of which were dismissed after she appealed them.
Arlington resident Laura Howell was not so lucky. She received three tickets after paying by phone, none of which was dismissed after she fought them. She tries not to park in D.C. anymore, she said.
"The mobile payment system is flawed and should not be grounds to receive a ticket until all system issues are resolved," she told The Washington Examiner.
DC acknowledged to the Examiner that "glitches" are causing about 25 tickets to be mistakenly issued every day.  "We're working to eliminate those problems, and if it does happen to somebody, they can appeal to the Department of Motor Vehicles."  

Read more at the Washington Examiner