Saturday, October 19, 2013

SHA Deploys New Camera in Frederick County

The Maryland State Highway Administration has announced that a new speed camera will be deployed in a workzone on Route 340/US 15 in Frederick County.  The location is between I-70 and Zion Road.  Tickets will begin going out on November 12.

The new mobile speed camera site, which is all about safety and has nothing to do with revenue, will be located in workzone where the highway speed limit has been temporarily reduced from 65mph to 55mph.  Citations may be issued 24/7 and "regardless of whether workers are present", according to the wording of state law.

The SHA deploys speed cameras in cooperation with the Maryland State Police under a contract with Xerox State and Local Solutions (formerly known as ACS State and Local Solutions).  Xerox is the same contractor who formerly ran Baltimore City's program before they lost the contract and the program was shut down due to revelations of systematic errors, errors which occurred even though the Baltimore devices passed all calibration tests.  To prove accuracy, the SHA now publishes annual calibration certificates online... certificates issued by the same "independent calibration lab" (MRA Digital) which "certified" the cameras which produced the errors in Baltimore.  However the SHA and Xerox need not worry about speed measurement errors being proven in the SafeZones program using the same method that erroneous speed readings were proven by us and by the Baltimore Sun, since unlike Baltimore City the SHA rounds off timestamps on citations to the nearest second and Xerox has refused requests to provide the time intervals for lidar cameras, even in response to a subpoena.  The SHA advocated against a change in the law which would have made precise timestamps mandatory in order to detect errors, a change which was successfully blocked with the assistance of heavy lobbying by Montgomery County and groups like the Maryland Association of Counties.