Proposal would catch speeders on film

Cameras similar to those at red lights suggested

August 07, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

In response to two fatal accidents on Liberty Road last month, Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr. discussed several safety proposals yesterday with Baltimore County police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan, including legislation to identify speeders by using cameras.

Speed appears to be a factor in the deaths of two people July 22 and July 31 on Liberty Road, police say.

Sheridan, who had studied proposals similar to those offered by Burns, said he supports measures to slow motorists on the busy four-lane road.

Community activists said yesterday they welcomed the attention being focused on the thoroughfare.

"I'd like to see overall traffic issues looked at on Liberty Road," said Barry L. Schliefer, executive director of the Liberty Road Randallstown Coalition, an umbrella organization of community groups and businesses.

The speed cameras would work like red light cameras, which take pictures of cars running through traffic signals, said Burns.

Sheridan said the department has studied the speed camera system used in Washington since last year.

He also noted that in Baltimore County, accidents have been reduced by up to 50 percent at intersections with red light cameras. "It's a way to slow people down," the chief said.

Burns said he planned to also introduce legislation that would upgrade from a misdemeanor to a felony the crime of fleeing and eluding a police officer in a marked vehicle. Sheridan said the department has examined how to raise the penalty, currently a one-year prison sentence and/or a $1,000 fine, to five years and/or $5,000, in hopes it would be more of a deterrent.

Burns also said he was encouraging residents of the Liberty Road corridor to report aggressive drivers. "The problem we need to address is how to prevent these type of drivers and how to catch violators afterward," he said.

Police are searching for the driver of a yellow car who left the scene of the accident July 31 on Liberty Road that killed a 32-year-old woman from the Druid Hill neighborhood of Baltimore and injured three others.

Police believe the driver of that car and the driver of a BMW were speeding and driving aggressively just before the BMW hit the back of the sport utility vehicle in which the woman was a passenger.

A 26-year-old Randallstown man riding a motor scooter was killed on Liberty Road July 22 when he was hit by a BMW that police said they had clocked at 70 mph in a 40-mph zone just before the crash. The driver of that BMW surrendered to police last week.

Sheridan and Burns said the problems on the busy thoroughfare are caused by a handful of drivers. "Most of the people driving on Liberty Road are law-abiding and are driving the speed limit," the chief said.

Burns said after meeting with Sheridan yesterday that he was especially pleased to hear that police have increased patrols along Liberty Road.

Henry Weisenberg, director of the Liberty Road Business Association, said police are visible in the area. "The more visible police are, the more it deters speeding and crime. Seeing cops day after day pulling cars over is the best deterrent."

Burns is seeking re-election in the Sept. 10 Democratic primary.

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