Drivers Beware: Speed Cameras Up and Running

Two speed cameras have been activated in Baltimore County, one in Arbutus and the other in Dundalk.  An article on Explore Baltimore County, by Bryan Sears, gives details on the whole ordeal.

Here are my thoughts. Granted I’m no expert, but if you’ve been to Montgomery County or even coming North on 95,  just above of the DC Beltway, you already know where I’m going with this.  Imagine you’re cruising down the road, whether you’re going over the posted limit or not, and you see a police officer parked off on the side of the road.  What do you do?  Well, some people glance down at their speedometers just to check and make sure they’re still good.  Others simply take their foot off the gas just in case (that’s me).  But the vast majority, slam on their brakes, whether or not they were speeding to begin with.  The phenomenon surrounding speed cameras gives the word, overreaction, a whole new meaning.

One time I was driving back from Ikea College Park (love Ikea by the way) and just as I see the sign off the side of the interstate, “Work Zone, Speed Cameras in Use,”  I notice the onset of brake lights.  The guy or gal directly in front of me slams on their brakes so fast and hard, it almost seemed like they were coming to a complete stop.  Thankfully there was no on the lane next to me or I would have hit them.  Ironically neither of us were going over 55 mph.  As I looked around, I noticed that this guy was not the only one completely overreacting.  There were many cars a  swerving cars, fingers raising , and horns a beeping.  I thought they should change the sign to read “Caution death trap ahead. Speed Cameras in use.”

My other encounter with speed cameras is no less annoying.  As I was visiting my friend in Montgomery County, we were driving down some random two lane road, of which I was warned about the speed cameras.  I attempted to be very careful, but none the less, a few months later I received a ticket in my mailbox.  Yes months, since we moved and they pulled our info before we officially changed our address and then the USPS failed to forward the citation.  Regardless, I opened the letter to find a bill for $40 and a picture of my car and my license plate.  Oddly, my van was in a turning lane .  I don’t know about you, but unless your reckless, I’m not seeing how you could possibly speed in a turning lane.  The only thing I could guess was that someone else flew past me and the camera caught me.  However, by the time I received the citation, it was already passed due.  Now I owed a late fee.  I decided not to fight it.  Really, I don’t need a reason to go back to Montgomery County.  It’s like a Venus Fly Trap, just waiting to attack you and drain your wallet.  So I sent in my check.  And again, a month or so later, they send, to my old address, back my check and a letter explaining that they couldn’t process my payment because I didn’t add my citation # to the check.  Seriously, you can’t search by last name? They told me that I had a certain amount of days, like 10 or so, to return the payment before they would notify the State and put a hold on my registration.  December 26, I resent my check with the citation number clearly (and slightly bolder than necessary) written in the subject line.

Guess what showed up in my mailbox a few days later…yep, a hold on my registration.  Aren’t they so sweet?  When I called to fix this oversight, I was told that I had to provide proof that I changed my address is time.  So I did, and guess what?  They still haven’t removed the flag.  All in all, a ticket that I’m fairly sure I didn’t deserve went from being a simple $40 to $95.

Of course I want people to respect school and work zone limits.  Safety is far more important, right?  My experience with speed camera proves to me, at least, that 1) it doesn’t necessarily make things safer, and 2) it seems like it’s more a source of revenue than anything else.

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2 Responses to Drivers Beware: Speed Cameras Up and Running

  1. Comments from me and other from the original posting @ explorebaltimorecounty website:

    user augieboy says…
    By my estimation, that would pay Vince’s pension for 20 years! Oh but wait…”after expenses”, it would take 242 years! BAHHHH!

    user mrbill says…
    does anyone really believe that they will issue tickets to school bus drivers and MTA drivers of buses that go over the speed limit and are caught on camera. think not. I have followed buses and they run through yellow, and red lights and go 15 or more miles over the speed limit including school zones.

    user stevebaileytowson says…
    I think that there are more effective ways to deter speeding in school zones than speed cameras, but as long as we are going to have them couldn’t the County Executive Jim Smith’s staff have negotiated better terms with the company running the program. Baltimore County has a 145 million dollar budget deficit, but signs a “no bid” contract that pays ACS, the company running the machines, more than 95% of the revenue in the first five months. Several other jurisdictions in the state doing business with ACS pay them only 40% of the fines from speed cameras to operate the program. The lesson to learn is that the taxpayer always gets stuck with the bill when the county circumvents the routine “purchasing” rules to accomodate a favored vendor.

    user augieboy says…
    stevebaileytowson thanks for explaining the sentiment of my comment…I didn’t have the time to articulate to the degree you have. I wonder, and have commented about the state and county vehicles that are in violation…I will go out on a limb and say we are ‘upside down’ if we were to ensure the accounting of all paid violations by those offenders would exceed $4,450 that the county would profit.

  2. To anyone who may have gotten a speed camera citation from Montgomery County, you might have the opportunity to get your money back. There is a class action lawsuit pending against Montgomery County’s camera. However you need to notify the county of your intent to make a claim to have a chance for this: you can fax a copy of the citations to the attorneys in the case at 301-563-9639 and they will take care of this for you. See the StopBigBrotherMD.org website for more details.

    Also, if you go to Prince George’s County, Baltimore City, or Sykesville, be careful of a massive scam that is currently taking place: the widespread creation of new school zones solely for the purpose of deploying cameras. These are locations which were never previously marked as school zones and often on major roads far from schools. This is a clear violation of guidelines released by the SHA, but they are doing this anyways. One town even lowered speed limits by 5mph on all their roads so they could issue more tickets. If anyone hears about this happening in BaCo please let us know!

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