Speed cameras are on wish lists

Police, state officials seek wider use

January 16, 2008|By Timothy B. Wheeler | Timothy B. Wheeler,Sun reporter

Police and state transportation officials urged lawmakers yesterday to expand the use of speed cameras in Maryland, saying they want to save lives, not raise revenues.

Baltimore City and Howard County are among the local governments seeking to join Montgomery County with state legislation authorizing deployment of cameras to catch speeders.

Local and state officials told members of the House Environmental Matters Committee that the devices have proven effective in reducing speeding and accidents and that they are more economical than posting a policeman on the roadside.

Montgomery officials said the county has collected $2.6 million in revenues in the seven months since it began using speed cameras near schools and in residential areas, with motorists issued $40 citations by mail after being photographed exceeding speed limits.

Police from other jurisdictions said they believe that the threat of speed cameras would slow motorists down.

"We'd like it best if we didn't issue a citation and changed behavior," said Capt. John McKissick, chief of special operations for the Howard police.

State transportation officials also want to be able to use speed cameras to slow motorists in work zones, which they say have become particularly hazardous for repair crews working at night.

"Last year, it was more dangerous to be a highway worker in Maryland than to be a law enforcement officer," said Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari.

The General Assembly authorized statewide use of speed cameras in 2003, but then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. vetoed the bill. Two years later, the legislature approved use of the cameras in Montgomery County. Ehrlich vetoed that bill, too, but the legislature overrode him in 2006.

tim.wheeler@baltsun.com

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