Sykesville mulls traffic cameras By Jennifer Jiggetts, Times Staff Writer Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sykesville police have set up traffic monitoring devices in several locations around town to see whether speed cameras are a viable option for the municipality.

Police Chief John R. Williams said he wouldn’t disclose the locations of the devices because he wants to get accurate data in those areas.

He hopes to present results at the Nov. 23 Town Council meeting.

The testing equipment measures the volume of traffic, the number of cars, speed and time, Williams said.

The Traffic Group Inc., of Baltimore, is conducting the study for the town. Town Manager Matt Candland said the company isn’t charging Sykesville to do the study.

“This is all just information gathering at this point. It’s a long, drawn-out process,” Williams said. “This isn’t going to happen overnight.”

Williams said a law that allows municipalities to install speed cameras passed by the General Assembly went into effect Oct. 1. That law permits speed cameras within school zones and public works construction, but it’s up to municipalities to decide whether to use them.

If Sykesville decided it wanted to add speed cameras, the Town Council would have to draft an ordinance and hold a public hearing on the matter. Williams said a draft of the ordinance is in place, but it would have to be tweaked and taken to the town’s legal staff before being introduced.

If the town decides to install speed cameras, motorists caught on tape going 12 mph over the speed limit could be given a civil citation and have to pay a $40 fine, Williams said, but would not get points on their licenses.

Motorists could contest the tickets in court, he said.

State law allows for the cameras to be on from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, including holidays, Candland said.Drivers wouldn’t be fined during the first 30 days of implementation, if approved.

“The ultimate goal is voluntary compliance,” Williams said.

Last year, about 1,400 traffic violations were issued in town, he said, although he wasn’t sure how many of those were speeding tickets. He said he often gets calls from the public about speeding in Sykesville.

“Speeding is always a priority concern in the community,” Williams said.

Williams said there would be no cost to the town. He said a portion of the fine would go toward the operating costs of the equipment and another portion would go toward town government.

Williams said cops would still be doing traffic enforcement.

“It really doesn’t change the nature of the officer’s job,” he said. “This is just an added tool to help with traffic enforcement.”

Reach staff writer Jennifer Jiggetts at 410-857-7873 or