Legislation has been submitted to the House of Delegates to repeal the authority of local and state agencies to use speed and red light cameras. The bill, labeled as House Bill 436, is sponsored by Delegate Warren Miller and 33 other state lawmakers.
HB 436 will be heard by the Environment and Transportation Committee on 2/18 at 1pm.
Kumar Barve (chair): firstname.lastname@example.org
Dana Stein (vice chair): email@example.com
Carl Anderton: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pam Beidle: email@example.com
Alfred Carr: firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Cassilly: email@example.com
Robert Flanagan: firstname.lastname@example.org
William Folden: email@example.com
David Fraser-Hidalgo: firstname.lastname@example.org
Barbara Frush: email@example.com
James Gilchrist: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anne Healey: email@example.com
Marvin Holmes: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jay Jacobs: email@example.com
Jay Jalisi: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tony Knotts: email@example.com
Stephen Lafferty: firstname.lastname@example.org
Clarance Lam: email@example.com
Corey McCray: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anthony O'Donnell: email@example.com
Charles Otto: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathy Szeliga: email@example.com
Willia Wivell: firstname.lastname@example.org
CLICK TO SEND AN EMAIL TO THE ENVIRONMENT AND TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE MEMBERS
The bill has also been submitted in the Senate as Senate Bill 468. A hearing has been scheduled in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee for 2/23/2016.
Senate Judicial Proceedings Members:
Sen Robert Zirkin (chair): email@example.com
Sen Lisa Gladded (vice chair): firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen James Brochin: email@example.com
Sen Robert Cassilly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen Michael Hough: email@example.com
Sen Susan Lee: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen Wayne Norman: email@example.com
Sen Victor Ramirez: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen Jamie Raskin: email@example.com
Sen Justin Ready: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Legislation Follows Years of Abuse, Errors
This year's bill is the latest piece of legislation in response to reports of numerous errors and other problems in speed camera programs across the state. Most specifically, Baltimore City's speed camera program was shut down in December of 2012 after it was revealed that the city issued thousands of erroneous citations based on incorrect speed reading. These errors were confirmed by audits of the city's speed camera program. Baltimore's vendor at the time, Xerox State and Local Solutions, is currently the vendor for both the SHA's program and Montgomery County's speed camera program, as well as programs in Rockville, Takoma Park, Gaithersburg, and several other municipal programs.
Errors had been reported in other jurisdictions as well, but not all have been acknowledged by local governments. Recently, we reported that College Park cited a stationary shuttle bus. In Wicomico county, a number of school teachers alleged that they had received erroneous citations. Some motorists had alleged receiving erroneous citations from Forest Heights. One motorist in College Park used a "car chip" which recorded his vehicle's speed and it showed that the speed his vehicle was recorded at was not the speed shown on the citation, that motorist succeeded in having his citation dismissed in court. More recently, we reported that College Park issued a citation to a stopped shuttle bus.
Some jurisdictions have incorrectly claimed that errors were isolated to Baltimore City, and all that all errors involved stationary vehicles, so the only thing they needed to be able to prove was that vehicles were "present and moving" and passed manufacturer defined calibration checks. However most of the erroneously cited vehicles from Baltimore's program were in fact moving, just not at the cited speed, and the devices giving faulty readings actually passed all their calibration tests, proving that the current requirements for testing do not prove accuracy. Thus most local governments, who claim that citation images cannot be used to verify speed and rejected prior legislation which would have required that, have no means of identifying errors of that sort.
The State of Marylands program came under criticism in 2011 after it was revealed that manufacturers had been permitted to "certify" their own equipment as accurate, rather than using an independent lab. A 2012 audit of the SHA's program revealed that the state did not meet its own standards for testing equipment at the start of the program, and a requirement that equipment certified by the International Association of Chiefs of Police was waived, a change which gave one contractor a decided advantage. No refunds were issued, and the whistleblower who revealed the issues was forced into early retirement for rocking the boat.
The speed camera programs in the Town of Morningside and the Town of Fairmount Heights were also shut down after those programs received severe criticism in the press. However some local governments rarely set things right after problems are uncovered. Montgomery County, for years, issued citations on days when legally required calibration tests were not performed, particularly on weekends, and none of the legally required "daily setup logs" were kept. Montgomery Count kept all the revenue from those citations and voided none of those citations.
Maryland Red Light Camera Programs' Creeping Enforcement Standards
Red light cameras have also come under criticism, as it has been revealed that in some jurisdictions most of the citations issued for red light running are not issued for "straight through" red light running. Rockville, in particular, more than doubled their red light camera revenues after deploying new cameras which ticket for slow moving right turns or vehicles which stop partially ahead of the white line. In one particular example, a video showed a vehicle stopped just ahead of the white line to see around a snow bank before making a right turn. Rockville unashamedly charged that motorist with running a red light simply for pulling ahead of the snow bank the city and county had failed to remove so that he could clearly see into the intersection.
Elsewhere in the US photo enforcement has also come under fire, largely due to a bribery scandal involving photo enforcement contractor Redflex.
Photo Enforcement Profiteers Expected to Come Out Against Legislation
Any unfavorable changes to speed and red light camera can expect to face stiff resistance from the photo enforcement industry, which has significantly increased their spending on lobbying in the past year. Local governments which profit from speed cameras, and their puppet organizations MaCo and the MML, are expected to oppose any changes to photo enforcement laws which might better protect the legal rights of motorists. Some local governments, particularly Montgomery County, regularly expend taxpayer resources and public employee time influencing state lawmakers. Officials from Montgomery County's speed camera program were invited in the past to sit on secret legislative workgroups which opponents of speed cameras and the general public were not permitted to observe. Montgomery County even went so far as to create a secret "Citizens Advisory Board on Traffic Issues",
which has discussed the county's testimony on pending legislation and
created "sock puppet" opinion articles which were successfully planted
in the local press; unlike normal "citizens advisory boards" this board
is completely closed to the general public.
Some local governments have grown to view speed and red light camera revenue as a sort of "highway user fee", which they are rightly entitled to collect. A member of Chevy Chase Village's council once stated "I think Safe Speed money is the crack cocaine of local government." in reference to the city's budgeting practices.
Prior "reform" legislation which actually addressed concerns of critics of the current system have always been shot down, and supporters of the system have been able to ensure that any legislative changes were so full of loopholes and twisted language as to be utterly meaningless. Legislation requiring audits of speed camera programs, of the type which which found the errors in Baltimore City, has been shot down by the house committees in the past because local governments did not want outside oversight which might reveal errors or other problems they did not wish to publicly admit.
Link To HB436
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Our Top Stories
- Rockville Falsely Accuses School Bus of Speeding
- Montgomery County Has Secret Speed Camera Committee -- Press and Critics Not Welcome
- Montgomery Speed Camera "OmBudsman" Won't Answer Questions
- Montgomery County Issues Erroneous Tickets
- College Park Cited Stationary Bus for Speeding
- Montgomery County ATEU Defends Culture of Secrecy
- How Two-Faced Triple-A Gave Maryland Speed Cameras
- "Secret" Baltimore Speed Camera Audit Found 10% Error Rate
- Speed Camera Reform Act Just a Big Fat Lie
- Court Rules Against Morningside on Public Records Access
- Speed Camera Company Celebrates "Bounty System" Loophole
- Montgomery County Steals Lanes for Expensive Bus Program
- Wicomico County Teachers Say Camera is Not Accurate
- Montgomery Council President Rice Racked Up Tickets
- Circuit Court Rules Innocence is a Defense, Rejects "Snitch" Requirement
- Baltimore Ends Camera Contract, Moves to Hides Records
- Montgomery Scamera Boss Lies About Red Light Camera "Warning Flashes"
- Montgomery County Camera Boss Blocks Public From Secret Meeting
- Salisbury Records Show Calibration Lapses, Sorry No Refunds!!
- Speed Camera Accuracy Questioned in Morningside
- Attorny General Gansler Depicted as "Reckless Passenger"
- Morningside Deployed Cameras Despite County Denial
- Morningside Admits Maintaining No Calibration Records, Doesn't Operate Own Cameras
- ACLU Documents Mass Tracking of Motorists By License Plate Scannrs
- Brekford Demands Tribute to See Calibration Records
- Access To Brekford Calibration Records Stalled in Salisbury, Morningside
- Public and Private Lobbyists Worked to Kill Speed Camera Reform
- Montgomery County Speed Camera Transforms Toyota into Dodge
- Montgomery County Boasts Error Rate "Under Ten Percent"
- Speed Camera Company Collects Dirt on Competitors
- Woman Gets 3 Tickets from DC Without Going There
- Legislature Raises Gas Tax
- Laurel, Hagerstown Circumvent Calibration Requirement
- Speed Camera Calibration Fails To Ensure Accuracy
- Speed Camera Programs Flout Sunshine Law
- Xerox Admits 5% Error Rate For Speed Camera Tickets
- Baltimore Cites Motionless Car For Speeding
- O'Malley Says Speed Camera Bounties Are Illegal
- Baltimore Ticketed Innocent Delivery Vehicle: Documents Prove Speed Camera Error
- Rockville Sees Huge Surge in Red Light Violations
- Trucking Company Challenges Accuracy of Baltimore Citations: Videos Prove Speed Camera Errors
- Speed Camera Salesman Caught Speeding AGAIN
- Riverdale Park Defends Forgery of Police Signatures
- High Court Rules Local Governments Above the Law
- Riverdale Park Allowed Civilians to Forge Police Approvals
- Baltimore Speed Camera Issues Ticket to the Dead
- Statewide Speed Cameras Now a $77Million Per Year Industry
- PG County Court Presumes All Defendants Guilty
- Town Releases Documents Proving Errors With Optotraffic Cameras
- Man arrested for asserting innocence in speed camera hearing
- Optotraffic Representative Caught Speeding
- Driver Uses Carchip to Challenge Optotraffic Camera
- Deceased Baltimore Cop Signs 2000 Citations
- Montgomery County Denies Right To Face Camera Operator In Court
- ACS Buys Steak Dinners For Lawmakers
- Baltimore City Issues Hundreds of Tickets in Error
- Baltimore Writes Speed Camera Revenues Into Budget Before Cameras Approved
- Camera Mistakenly Accuses Driver of 100mph Rampage
- Montgomery County Scamera Contract Includes Massive PR Campaign
- Optotraffic Investigates Possible Speed Camera Errors
- Speed Camera Legislation Attracts Lobbyists
- Sykesville Voters Overturn Speed Cameras in Referendum
- Traffic Engineering Techniques Out-perform Speed Cameras
- Transportation Planning Board Unveils Plan to Track and Tax Drivers