Friday, February 26, 2016

Thousands Sign Petition to End Speed Cameras

The Maryland Campaign for Liberty has reported that thousands have signed a petition to repeal speed cameras, created to support House Bill 436 and Senate Bill 468.  The petition was presented to state lawmakers in hearings in both the house and the senate.

The Maryland Drivers Alliance provided testimony in support of the legislation, in which we cited  the numerous arguments against speed cameras as well as the systematic problems which have occurred in Baltimore City and elsewhere in the state.  Audits of Baltimore's program found that there were error rates as high as ten percent before they were forced to shut the program down.  We also cited the fact that speed camera errors continue to occur in the state.

Among the recent issues the Maryland Drivers Alliance has cited include the "culture of secrecy" promoted by the Montgomery County Government, which included the creation of a secret "citizens advisory board on traffic issues" which is entirely closed to the public and the press, and which operates in a loophole that threatens the intent of the entire Maryland Open Meetings Act.  We also noted that Montgomery County failed to refund citations which were wrongly issued during periods when they did not perform and log required calibration checks on their equipment.  The so called "Ombudsman" for Montgomery County's program has so far refused to even respond to our questions about these issues, despite having a statutory obligation to respond to questions and concerns within a reasonable period of time.  Some of our questions sent to the "ombudsman" have gone unanswered since June of 2015.  We also noted that Montgomery County's program went out of its way to defend their ability to find people who were not actually driving guilty of an offense unless they provide "hearsay" testimony against another person, despite a circuit court ruling that this is not required by law.   Montgomery County's program is often described as a "model" program by supporters of speed cameras, while opponents of speed cameras assert that this is the problem.

Meanwhile, a bill which would have raised speed camera fines and lowered the threshold for issuing speed camera citations in Baltimore County was withdrawn by the sponsors after it received a highly negative response from the public.