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Speed Camera Citations on the Increase

In Howard County's school zones, mobile camera units averaged 104 citations per day in January and 90 per day in December, said police.

Nearly 2,200 citations were issued by school zone speed cameras in January, according to the Howard County Police Department (HCPD). Only a handful of citations have been contested.

“Our collective thought was that the first [contested ticket] would be a physicist with a projector,” debating the accuracy of the technology, Chief William McMahon said this week.

It was, instead, a young woman who was speeding, contested the ticket, and was found guilty, McMahon said. So far, all of the drivers who have contested citations—less than five—have been found guilty and ordered to pay the $40 fine.

Money from the citations is earmarked to pay for the speed camera program, according to HCPD spokeswoman Elizabeth Schroen. Any additional money is dedicated to public safety programs.

In January alone, speed camera operators issued approximately 2,100 citations, according to Capt. John McKissick. That's about $84,000.

“That was with 20 operational days,” he said. “They averaged about 104 citations per day” in January, he said, and about 90 per day in December.

McKissick last year answered some frequently asked questions about the speed camera program. 

The two speed cameras are mobile, and travel to different school zones in Howard County during the day and any time when a school facility is in use, for class or other activities.

They're operational Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

McMahon said that in particular, Whiskey Bottom Road, Ilchester Road and Centennial Lane have proven to have speed problems.

At the Citizens Advisory Council meeting, where citizens can talk with the police chief, an attendee asked if there was any discussion about putting speed cameras on “regular” streets as opposed to solely in school zones.

“I do think they have potential use on the roads,” McMahon said, but as written, legislation only allows Howard County to use speed cameras in school and work zones. 

“I don’t see that on the horizon,” he said.

Adam R February 19, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Thanks for the article and keeping us informed. Did they tell you how much the County kept of that January revenue of $84,000? I was curious what percentage went to the private operator.
MG42 February 19, 2012 at 06:54 PM
I hope nearly all of that money went to the private sector. Government is too big already, we don't need to shovel more money at them. At least some of the money went to pay for gas. Those vans sit there all day long with their engines running.
Sean Colin February 20, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Besides how much money was generated are there any facts as to the fewer number of accidents or how many less children were struck now that these wonderful cameras are in place?
Jay February 20, 2012 at 03:05 AM
I live off one of these areas and I can speak first hand how speed is a HUGE issue. I don't care how much money is made, and if HC can control the speeding in these areas then I'm in 100% onboard. Unless you live near the mentioned areas you WON'T have an idea of what's going on.
Jay February 20, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Does it really matter? The fact of the matter is the posted limit is 30 MPH, and often times people are driving in excess of 50MPH. Besides the camera are designed to snap that picture if you're doing 12MPH over the posted limit. Minimal of 42 MPH + in a 30 MPH in a residential area, which is also school zone is to fast.
Sean Colin February 20, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Jay, The number of citations are increasing so the cameras are not having the desired effect are they?
Jay February 20, 2012 at 04:02 PM
I personally noticed a decrease in speeding around my area, so while the numbers reported are up means it is working. Can't say they had a baseline previously, no? Now drivers are thinking twice about speeding through blind corners and racing through school zones. So yes, it is working. Number aren't everything either... Maybe with more revenue HC can add more cameras to the fleet. Aggressive driving in MD is off the hook.
JB February 20, 2012 at 07:12 PM
numbers do not lie jay!
Sean Colin February 20, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Jay, Numbers are everything, whether it be the number of dollars generated or he increase/decrease in tickets issued. What is your method for noticing a decrease, is it a gut feeling or a scientific one? These cameras were put in place based upon speed surveys the county conducted, not gut feelings or innuendo. If the numbers are up Jay, then they are not doing their job at reducing speeds, what they are doing is generating income. The numbers speak volumes.
Jay February 20, 2012 at 10:52 PM
I agree to an extent, and without going down a long argumentative path I believe a lot of work needs to be done in these areas. If not citing speeders then what? This program has been in place for about 3 months now and reported are only Dec and Jan. I personally don't think it's been long enough to be effective. Also if you live in these areas, meaning you own a home and send your kid/s to the schools then you really won't understand what's going on. Then again possibly you do... There is a real problem and not doing anything is just turning a blind eye to a problem. If you have suggestions I'm sure HCPD would love to hear them. Otherwise a complaint with out a solutions isn't really helping. Possibly more revenue to HC can help...
Sean Colin February 21, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Jay, This issue can be resolved through traffic engineering, many roads have traffic chokers( Great Star Dr in Clarksville), these devices force vehicles to slow down, as do speed bumps. The Work Zone speed cameras consistently issue more tickets each year than the previous, with no data on accident reduction, but not a word about that is mentioned, but they know exactly how much money they have generated. These cameras will be no different, they are there to raise money and WILL NOT make a vehicle slow down, they are passive, traffic engineering is an active solution but will not generate dollar one. Jay, isn't odd that there are so many TV and radio ads about drunk driving or not wearing a seat belt, but not a single one educating drivers on this subject? Perhaps when the county finally breaks even with the camera vendor, they can use the proceeds for this purpose-I doubt it though.

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