Thursday, May 1, 2008
The discussion and debate over speed and red light cameras continues to reverberate. It is one of a number of headaches lingering in the aftermath of the recent and unusual session of the Maryland General Assembly.
One of the main sticking points was a poison amendment that would have sent the proceeds to the state as opposed to remaining in the local jurisdiction.
And there in a nutshell was the rub. If the legislation was truly offered as a public safety initiative, then why did it matter that the fines collected would not stay in the local jurisdiction?
If the truth were told, the purpose of the legislation was to “enhance” the coffers of local government. It was a wolf in the sheep’s clothing disguised as a “public safety initiative.”
Perhaps the only thing missing was language that the legislation is “for the children.”
Red light cameras have been around in Maryland for quite a number of years. Speed cameras were first proposed in Maryland around 2003. Four years later the Maryland General Assembly approved them for use in Montgomery County.
A March 2006 editorial in the Annapolis newspaper, The Capital, noted a fall 2005 Washington Post “analysis of red-light camera use in Washington, D.C., where such devices have totaled up more than 500,000 violations and $32 million in fines in six years.”
The analysis found that “the number of accidents at intersections with the cameras was going up at either the same rate or a faster rate than at intersections without the cameras. There was no evidence the cameras were preventing collisions or injuries.”
Advocates for red light and speeding cameras still need to make their case. The perception is growing that the cameras are much more about raising money than traffic safety.
As much as it is impossible for police officers to be everywhere all the time, the best way to address traffic safety, when common sense and prudence have taken a holiday, is by awareness and education – and “constant enforcement” – by humans, not predatory computer programmed cameras.
Read my column in its entirety here: Seeing Red-Eye in the Camera
20080430 TT Seeing Red eye in the camera
Kevin Dayhoff www.kevindayhoff.net http://kevindayhoff.blogspot.com/
Kevin Dayhoff: www.westgov.net Westminster Maryland Online www.westminstermarylandonline.net http://kevindayhoffwestgov-net.blogspot.com/