City speed cameras targeted revenue, not safety [Letter]

December 20, 2013

The problems with Baltimore's speed camera program ran much deeper than the issues The Sun describes with the two vendors who operated the cameras and administered the issuance of citations ("City plans to buy out camera contract," Dec. 17).

First, the law permitting speed cameras in "school zones" was well-intentioned and allowed the placement of cameras a considerable distance from schools as an aid to enforcing school zone speed limits and assuring the safety of children in the vicinity of schools. This did not mean, however, that the city should place its cameras at the maximum distance from the school allowed by law, unless there was a specific need to do so for the safety of school children. Unfortunately, Baltimore violated the spirit of the law by locating its cameras on main thoroughfares which were distant from, and had no apparent connection with, any school.

Under the program, large swaths of the city were designated as "school zones" with no apparent purpose other than to support the city's entitlement to fines from unsuspecting motorists. The city's intention that the speed camera program was to serve primarily as a revenue producer, rather than a safety measure, is further illustrated by the fact that citations were issued at times when schools were obviously closed, such as during vacation periods.

If Baltimore's school zone speed camera program is to be resurrected, it should be administered in a way that the public will have confidence that its primary purpose is for the safety of children, rather than just another measure to generate revenue for the city's coffers.

Berryl Speert, Baltimore

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