I have read, with some confusion, recent letters commenting negatively on the use of speed cameras in school zones. I am confused as to why anyone would be against driving more carefully in a school zone.
School zones typically have high pedestrian traffic, most of which are distracted teenagers or silly, unaware youngsters. Speeding in these areas makes accidents more common. When I am forced to concentrate on driving 25 to 30 mph, I drive with greater awareness of my surroundings.
In many past letters three common themes emerge: Concern that speed cameras are a government plan to generate revenue, concern that speed cameras are a personal privacy violation, and politicizing the debate by stating Democrats are to blame for enacting this law.
Are cameras a revenue stream? I submit my experience with speed cameras. I received a ticket for going 42 mph in a 30 mph zone in Prince George's County. I cannot say if on that day at that time, my speed was 42 mph, but I often exceed 30mph (as do many drivers) on that stretch of road. The ticket stated that speeding occurred in a school zone. I was very surprised to read this since the school is about 1⁄2 mile away, with a 90-degree turn between the camera and the school.
However, upon closer inspection, there are school-zone signs posted before the scene of my crime. I paid my ticket and have been careful to avoid speeding in this area since that time. Interestingly, I have observed that almost no one else speeds in this area anymore.
Howard County law allows for signs stating that speed limits will be camera-enforced. I have seen evidence that speed cameras are an effective deterrent to speeding. Once the public is aware of the risk of receiving tickets, speeding will be markedly reduced. The revenue stream soon after will be minimal.
Are speed cameras a personal privacy invasion? I think not. We all are guilty of exceeding the speed limit occasionally, but no one would argue it is legal to do so. Is it a violation of personal rights or privacy when police officer issues you a citation? Of course not. Why should we think cameras are more like Big Brother watching us than law enforcement watching us?
Are Democrats to "blame" for the speed camera laws? Perhaps. I don't really care. I would submit that the non-Democrats who espouse this view should evaluate their position on non-Democratic talking points such as fiscal responsibility. In order to enforce speeding laws for school zones to a real reduction in speeding without cameras, it would take perhaps two patrol cars present with radar guns on every school day, all day long. The cameras present a much less expensive way to affect driver reform for much less financial expenditure, and the law-enforcement officers can be elsewhere to protect and serve.
Speed cameras are a win-win. The families and kids win a safer school neighborhood. The drivers win with explicit signage warning that cameras are in the area. The government wins by accomplishing a laudable goal for minimal investment. I just don't see the problem.