Frederick Newspaper Praises Speed Camera Reform Legislation

A June 8 Frederick News-Post editorial praised speed camera reform legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly during the 2014 Session.  The editorial noted the News-Post’s prior support of speed cameras and opined that the legislation made needed and “vast improvement[s]” to local speed camera programs:

The new [speed camera] rules are now in effect, and they go a long way towards improving this controversial public safety initiative. They should also enhance confidence in these devices, something that has been lacking among many drivers, even before the first cameras went into operation.

The editorial discussed many of the reforms contained in the 2014 legislation, including a prohibition of reimbursing vendors based on the number of tickets issued, penalties for vendors with poorly performing systems, review of a speed camera citation by a sworn law enforcement official, uniform speed camera and school zone signage, and the creation of a local “ombudsman” who can void a driver’s erroneously issued speed camera citation before going to trial.

The overarching problem with the original [2009 speed camera] legislation was that it did not require enough involvement by the jurisdiction employing the camera systems. In many places, contractors essentially managed the programs, and worked under a “bounty system” in which they were paid based on the number of tickets they issued.

That’s no longer legal for any new contract that’s issued.  …

A recent Washington Post story on this new legislation suggests that, “ … the changes in Maryland law are likely to decrease the overall revenue governments take in from the speed cameras while raising their administrative costs.” Those who have characterized these systems as revenue-enhancing schemes for local government will be happy to hear that. But the really good news is, as The Post puts it, “Motorists are less likely to be surprised by a camera’s presence in a school zone, and will have a new avenue of appealing tickets they believe were issued in error.”