Speeding is a problem in the city of Baltimore, and with the advances of technology, it was only a matter of time before the government used it to catch speeders. To help control the speeding population, speed cameras were installed at specific locations to ensure that better coverage was possible. Instead of hiring more police officers to sit in locations where speeders are likely, it was decided that cameras would be a more cost effective solution.
However, this idea was not without its problems, and that’s what has many citizens of Baltimore up in arms. Since the installation of the cameras, there has been nothing but problems. Some people feel that the cameras are nothing more than a money grab by the city, and some don’t understand why there are so many problems with the cameras in the first place. On top of that, many of the cameras have inadvertently sent tickets to people who were not breaking the law. For these reasons, it is important to understand how cameras work, where they are located, and what the current status of these cameras is for the future.
Speed Cameras: The “What” and “Where”
Just what are speed cameras? These are small digital cameras that are posted in high-speed areas. They are triggered when you pass them, much like a radar gun used by cops to catch speeders. Once it determines you are above the posted speed limit, the camera takes a picture of your license plate number. It also takes five seconds of video showing that you were the driver. Using license records, the citation is then sent to you, and you can choose to pay or to fight the ticket in court.
Usually, the amount of the citation from a speed cam is about $40 and do not add points to your driving record. Around the Baltimore area, the cameras have been set up in school zones and were active for weekdays between eight in the morning until eight in the evening. The cameras were set to trigger when a car passed through the zone at faster than 12 MPH. Once you were “caught” by the technology, the citation would be sent to you for speeding in a school zone. As with all technology, this bright idea was not without its pitfalls, and it led to some very angry people around the Baltimore area with false citations.
What Went Wrong?
The original company that installed the speed cameras around the school zones was not as skilled as the city thought they would be. These cameras had problems from the start. They would often take pictures of cars that were obeying the speed limits and even some that were standing still. This led to a great deal of citizens appealing their citations and winning on the basis of the malfunctioning of the cameras. What was meant to protect people from speeders ended up as an embarrassment to the city. The first company was fired.
Now, however, the city already had the cameras in place, though they were not working correctly. The city hired another outside group to come in and attempt to get the cameras working properly. Both contractors were expected to install cameras that would take pictures of legitimate law breakers, but neither was able to deliver. The second company, like the first, could not make the cameras more reliable than they were before. Instead, the problem compounded, people got mad, and the city had to withdraw from trying to make these school zone cameras work. Although they have successfully installed cameras at red lights, these cameras were not successful and ended up being put on hold until it could be decided what to do.
Current Status of the Speed Cameras
Currently, the speed cameras in school zones around Baltimore City are not functioning. The second company has been fired, and the city is still looking for ways to make their investment work. It winds up as an embarrassment for the city because they have successfully installed speed cameras before and now are unable to get the cameras to work in school zones. The technology is literally sitting by the side of the road with nothing to do.
Speed cameras are, however, fully active outside of Baltimore City limits, including Baltimore County. The city was the only county in Maryland to stop using the speed cameras.
However, the government is dedicated to getting them working properly. Many citizens now are against the cameras because they are unreliable and file false reports. Others, though, feel that the cameras are needed around school zones to protect the children that cross there. The city will continue its search for a company that guarantees to get the cameras working, but the timeline on that is unclear. For now, the city is content to leave the cameras off to prevent false citations and look into the matter more thoroughly to attempt to get the cameras to work effectively, as they did with the red light cameras.
Outside of Baltimore City
If you are traveling outside of Baltimore City and feel you received a ticket when you were not speeding, please fight the case in the respective county’s traffic court. Wrongful ticketing is, as you may expect, illegal and the ticket will be made void.
For a full list of speed cameras in Baltimore County, take a look at Baltimore County’s official list.