Montgomery County to install speed cameras in school zones
by Sarah Shannahan
PUBLISHED 10/26/2006 11:24:47 AM
Montgomery County police announced a plan to install 12 speed cameras in school zones and residential areas around the county by early 2007 to decrease the number of automobile accidents in the county. Police plan to test speed cameras that automatically issue tickets to speeding cars in the areas surrounding schools.
Earlier this year, Gov. Robert Ehrlich vetoed a bill authorizing speed cameras, but the Maryland State Legislature overruled his decision. “The cameras will be tested as a pilot project,” said Esther Bowring, public information officer for the Montgomery County Police. “There was authorization from the state legislature, but the county is only putting them in school zones and residential neighborhoods at this time.”
Bowring said police need as much assistance as possible to deter speeding, a leading cause of accidents. “Police officers cannot be all places at all times. This [plan] can help reduce the number of automobile accidents.”
Senior Maureen Golan said she often sees speeding along Whittier Blvd., but student drivers should not always carry the blame. “On Whittier, there is definite speeding because it [the road] is so wide. Speeding problems occur not so much in the morning but in the afternoon and on weekends. People are pushing the speed limit on Whittier during lunch but I don’t think students are the main problem—it’s usually other people just driving by.”
Junior Susan England said she thinks the idea of automatically ticketing each student who drive over the posted speed limit seems unfair. “It’s a terrible idea, especially for new drivers, because it’s hard to control your speed on hills like the ones on Whittier.”
Golan said the benefits of installing speed cameras in the community outweigh its inconveniences. “I think it’s a good idea. It might help people who get to school on time because it will prevent people speeding when getting to school late.”
Police have constructed a method for determining the future locations of the speed cameras by deploying “stealth pads” throughout Montgomery County. The Washington Post reported that, these small, black devices will measure traffic speed and help decide the best place to place the cameras. Drivers cannot see the stealth pads while driving because they can lay flat on the road and blend in with the pavement.
Montgomery County will join the District of Columbia police, who strictly enforce speed limits through the use of automated speed cameras police in an effort to combat unsafe driving. D.C. Police Officer Kenny Bryson said the District saw a decrease in the rate of aggressive speeding from 22 percent in 2001, the same year they installed the traffic devices, to 1.7 percent in August 2006.
Bowring said police plan to make Montgomery County’s cameras similar to those in D.C., which, issue speeders a fine of $30 for a speed between one and ten miles per hour over the posted speed limit. Although fines from D.C. cameras reach a maximum of $200, Montgomery County Police do not plan to fine speeders more than $40.
Police already enforce traffic laws with the help of automated red-light cameras scattered throughout the county. Bowring said that as of Jan. 2005, Montgomery County police planned to have 45 red-light cameras in place.