More red light cameras coming
Publish Date: 06/24/06
By Katy Brandenburg
FREDERICK -- Two downtown intersections are being outfitted with new red light camera equipment, according to Lt. Shawn Martyak of the Frederick Police Department's Community Services Division.
Lt. Martyak, head of the red light camera program, said the cameras should be installed by the end of the week at East Patrick Street at Monocacy Boulevard and Willowdale Drive at Key Parkway.
The program has caught 6,023 red light runners since it began in May 2005. Many others were caught on camera and escaped without citation for various reasons, mostly because the camera couldn't read the tag clearly.
Lt. Martyak said the new cameras are more advanced and accurate. The cameras are smaller and the poles are taller. With the cameras placed higher, they will be able to get a wider view of the intersection; the screens also offer a much sharper resolution than the old units.
"It was very clear, even at night," Lt. Martyak said, after viewing a demo of the new cameras in action. "I was very impressed."
The intersections offer prime opportunities to catch speeders and violators, especially during rush hour. Of the five current intersections outfitted with cameras, the two on Rosemont Avenue are the worst.
Here are the number of violations at each intersection for the past year:
-- East Third Street at East Street - 320
-- Opossumtown Pike at Thomas Johnson Drive - 506
-- Motter Avenue at West Seventh Street - 657
-- Rosemont Avenue at Schley Avenue - 1,905
-- Rosemont Avenue at Montevue Lane - 2,635
Funds from the citations go back to the city, in the same way that parking ticket fees do, and speeding tickets help fund state projects.
Some residents have complained the cameras are only being used to generate revenue. Lt. Martyak pointed out that if so many drivers weren't running red lights, the program would not generate so much money; it's a self-sustaining system.
"Our ultimate goal with this program is to achieve voluntary compliance and to change drivers' behavior to stop at red lights," he said. "Other jurisdictions have shown, over time, that red light running and revenue decrease, as well as the number of crashes (at intersections with cameras)."
He said the statistics have shown certain patterns over the past year, but will need another year or two to produce enough data to confirm the trends.
October and November had fewer violations than other months, Lt. Martyak said. The number of violations peaked, predictably, during the pre-holiday rush in December.
Lt. Martyak said watching the tapes of people running red lights has made him a more cautious driver. Some vehicles reach speeds of 60 mph or more in 25-mph zones trying to make it through the intersections, he said. Some fly through long after the light has turned red, which is even scarier.
"Reviewing the violations and seeing the maneuvers they make has changed my habits," he said. "I'd rather get there 10 minutes late and safely than not get there at all."