Cumberland Times-News

February 18, 2014

Fix the flaws

Halt use of speed cameras until they are reliable

Cumberland Times-News

— State legislators heard testimony Tuesday on a bill to revamp the way speed cameras are used in Maryland. We would go one step beyond that and discontinue use of all cameras until they are 100 percent foolproof.

House Bill 929 calls for a number of reforms, seeking to:

• Clarify the definition of  “erroneous violation” and subjects the contractor to liquidated damages for each erroneous violation equal to at least 50 percent of the fine amount if more than five percent of the violations in a calendar year are erroneous;

• Require that a violation must be signed by a duly authorized law enforcement officer, rather than an agent or employee of a law enforcement agency;

• Prohibit contractors who administer a speed monitoring system from receiving their fee on a per-ticket basis;

• Clarify the definition of school zone and requires placement of school zone signs proximate to speed monitoring signs;

• Require local jurisdictions with speed monitoring systems to designate an official or employee to review a citation if contacted by a person who received a ticket that they believe to be in error. The designee must respond prior to the deadline for a motorist to contest a ticket.

• Develop a training program concerning the oversight and administration of a speed monitoring program.

Horror stories connected with speed cameras seem to be growing by the month. AAA Mid-Atlantic said some of the complaints include drivers who weren’t even moving being cited for speeding, motorists receiving tickets that were “authorized” by a deceased police officer, and audit findings showing error rates higher than were initially reported.

While the intent of HB 929 is good, the system is broken. Suspending use of all cameras until every problem is fixed is the best option.