By Fulvio Cativo
Capital News Service
ANNAPOLIS, MD Speed cameras are back.
Some lawmakers are supporting a new bill to set up a five-year
pilot program for the radar devices in Prince George's and
Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. vetoed legislation last
year that would have authorized all localities to install
the technology to catch and ticket speeders.
"There were some real privacy concerns that the governor
had with regard to that bill," Ehrlich spokesman Henry
Fawell said. "I don't think the governor would be very
enthusiastic about a similar bill this year.
Delegate William A. Bronrott, D-Montgomery, introduced the
new legislation to target speeders in residential and school
zones where the speed limit is 35 mph or less. The two target
counties, he said, face pedestrian accident problems and want
to crackdown on speeders -- problems he said the cameras could
In Prince George's County there were 103 pedestrian deaths
between 1997 and 2001, according to a CASA of Maryland study
titled "Pedestrian Safety in Crisis: Latino Deaths on
the International Corridor."
Between 1997 and 2001, there were more pedestrian fatalities
than homicides in Montgomery County. Pedestrian deaths rose
from 11 to 18 from 1997 to 1999, according to a 2002 Montgomery
"Speed kills," Bronrott said. "It is a leading
killer of Marylanders on our roadways and it is a particular
threat in far too many of our neighborhoods and school zones."
Local governments criticized the governor for rejecting last
"This is smart law enforcement," said David Weaver,
spokesman for Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan,
who said cameras would help keep tabs on speeders without
diverting local police. "We can increase enforcement
without increasing personnel."
Local governments would purchase the speed cameras, Bronrott
said. Fines would be about $75 and no points would be assessed
on a driver's license. If passed, the five-year pilot program
would operate until 2009 and then county councils would report
to the General Assembly on the program's effectiveness.
Cost of the cameras varies from $25,000 to $100,000, which
is typically repaid with revenue generated from tickets, according
to the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
Foreign countries and Washington, D.C., use speed cameras
and have cut down speeding and road risks, Bronrott added.
The District is the only East Coast jurisdiction to use speed
cameras. It has used mobile speed cameras since 2001 and Thursday
it installed its first stationary speed camera in the 600
block of Florida Avenue NE.
Jackie Gillan, chairwoman of the Pedestrian Safety Advisory
Committee in Montgomery County said the technology used in
radar cameras is already used to catch people who don't pay
tolls when crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
"If you race through a school zone, this administration
doesn't think you need to be given a ticket but if you blow
through a toll booth they're going to send you a ticket,"
When he vetoed last year's camera bill, the governor, in
a written letter, said the Department of Transportation
which requested the veto acknowledged cameras would
reduce speed, but found no data to support that they would
also reduce accidents.
Bronrott disputed that and added the bill speaks for itself.
"There is no good reason why crossing the street should
be or even feel like a death-defying act," he said.