Annapolis Deploys Drones to Tackle Traffic Problems

For years, motorists have complained about traffic along Forest Drive, a major traffic route that serves most of Annapolis. Many of the complaints center around traffic jams resulting from accidents and road work.

Anne Arundel County Executive, Steve Schuh and Annapolis Mayor, Mike Pantelides last week announced a memorandum of understanding between the two governments to mitigate the traffic woes – and it involves drones.

The city and county will share data on land use, traffic patterns, and other transportation information to refine the county’s regional travel forecast model. The Annapolis Police Department will also deploy drones to investigate traffic accidents, which officials believe will streamline investigations while keeping traffic moving.

According to CBS Baltimore,

With gridlock as a result of accidents and roadwork, the Annapolis Police Department is turning to drones to better asses accidents and take on most of the work.

“It’s going to allow us to re-deploy our resource. Instead of having three or four officers out there directing traffic, blocking lanes,” says Chief Baker. The drones will be used to take measurements, gather evidence and investigate damages, which is work that officers are currently doing out on the roadways.

“The average accident sometimes can take three hours, now it can be done as quick as an hour so, really looking forward to this,” says Mayor Pantelides.

Legislation enacted in 2015 made Maryland one of only three states to grant the state government exclusive power to regulate drone usage, preempting municipalities and counties from enacting their own ordinances. MACo opposed this legislation as a preemption of county authority and was able to secure an amendment to assess the need for new laws or local tools after three years of industry maturation.

MACo, along with the Maryland State Police, are among the stakeholders charged with evaluating any safety or security problems arising from drone use as the industry expands in the years ahead. The stakeholder group will report its findings to the governor in 2018.

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