Yesterday marked the implementation of many new laws throughout Maryland, arguably the most controversial of which was the new speed camera policy. Throughout Maryland, counties are now able to put up speed cameras and give $40 tickets to those going at least 12 miles per hour above the posted limit. There was heavy opposition to the cameras as the bill progressed through the State legislature, but it ultimately passed and is now being put into practice.
Legislators are hoping that the wide-spread use of these cameras in Maryland will have equal if not greater success than they have had in Montgomery County, where the cameras have been in place since 2006. A recent report provided to the Montgomery County Council showed significant improvements in school and residential areas, two areas targeted by the new policy. Not only were crashes involving injury down almost 40% in the county, but the number of speeders, in general, was down from the time the cameras were constructed. This result, especially in school and other high frequency pedestrian zones, is critical for the success of the cameras as it has decreased the temptation to speed just because no one is looking.
Although these results (taken in Maryland’s most populous county) speak for themselves and residents have requested cameras in different areas throughout the state this process will not take shape overnight. Baltimore County has authorized the cameras and some of them are under construction, but this progress has not been made in most of Maryland’s counties. Many municipalities have built plans for speed cameras into upcoming budgets, but council votes are still needed in a majority of counties.
Many were wary of this law as bordering on invasion of privacy and while those people still, most likely, hold the same views the results of the program cannot be ignored. Ultimately the safety of Maryland residents is the critical aspect of this plan and cameras have, and will, contribute to it.