Saturday, April 5, 2014

Rockville Cameras Ticket For Right Turn After Full Stop

We have previously reported how red light cameras in the city of Rockville saw vastly increased revenues after they began ticketing motorists for making slow moving right turns in right turn lanes on red.  WTOP has reported in an instance where a motorists received such a citation when making a full stop, albeit slightly past the line, indicating they are now using cameras to enforce the strict letter of the law.

In the incident in question the video showed the vehicle came to a full stop, but after the stop line.  The video did not show the vehicle actually proceeding through the turn.  In the particular case in question no pedestrians were present, the car was not blocking a cross walk, and snow piled up along the side of the road could have made it difficult for any motorist to see into a crosswalk from behind the line.

Right turn on red is legal in Maryland but requires motorists to first make a full stop "behind a clearly marked stop line" before proceeding.  However Rockville is apparently now supporting a strict interpretation of this, ticketing for such technical violations even when the motorist did make a full stop.

Rockville police defended the decision to issue this ticket:  "The law requires a complete cessation of movement. If the vehicle is completely passed the stop bar, yes, the driver will get a ticket. But we will not ticket if part of the vehicle is behind the stop bar" says Rockville City Maj. Michael England.

The motorist disagreed that the ticket was about safety: "I don't run red lights. I'm a safe driver. I didn't really pay much attention to the white stripe because I was interested in safely turning and not running into the traffic that is crossing, or hit any pedestrians," he says. "I understand the text of the law. But I think the spirit of the law is about safe driving and if you view the video, I think there's no question I was driving in a safe fashion."

Data published by the NHTSA found that accidents involving a right turns on red (under all types of conditions combined) accounted for an extremely small percentage of accidents (0.05% in one study) and also among signalized intersection crashes (0.4%).

In 2012, prior to implementing stricter right turn on red policies, earned approximately $630,000 in red light camera revenues off of an estimated 8,280 citations, according to the FY13 budget.  The city's FY15 budget estimates that the city is bringing in $1,800,000... 2.8 times as much... off of an estimated 21,000 citations.

Decisions to implement such policies are made by elected officials.
Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton, Councilmembers Feinberg, Moore, Onley and Carr