Report: Speed Camera Ticket Accuracy Comes Under Scrutiny
A state delegate wants speeding tickets dismissed in cases where it's unclear the motorist was in violation.
A recent report published by the Baltimore Sun points out an issue with speed cameras in Howard County—citizens who receive a ticket can't check the accuracy of the camera based on the photographs provided.
Because Howard County speed cameras round the times each photograph is taken to the nearest second, motorists who receive a ticket are not able to calculate the accuracy of the camera's radar gun based on the distance their vehicle travels between photographs, according to the Sun.
In Baltimore County, a state delegate is calling for a state audit and possible reboot of the speed camera program in Maryland.
Del. Jon Cardin told Patch Monday he would like judges to throw out tickets when it's not clear that the driver was speeding. He stopped short of saying he would include language in his bill that would freeze speed camera programs used by the state, Baltimore City, Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery counties.
In Baltimore City, citations provide time stamps to the thousandth of a second on each of the two photos on the citations issued. Those time stamps allow for a math calculation that helps determine speed, according to the paper.
The General Assembly passed legislation allowing for the implementation of speed cameras in highway construction and school zones.
A spokesperson for the Howard County Police Department told the Sun the photographs are used to show that the vehicle is in motion, not prove the vehicle was speeding, and are in compliance with the law.
Howard County currently employs two manned speed camera vans that are posted throughout the county in school and work zones.
Each camera works by using laser technology to track a vehicle during a certain period of time. At the end of the tracking period, the system determines the average speed of the vehicle, according to information posted on the county police's website.
The tickets do not provide the distance used by the camera to determine how fast the car was traveling. If distance was provided, along with time stamps down to the tenth of a second, a motorist could use a math equation to determine their speed, according to Judge Steven A. Glazer, who wrote a lengthy article this year taking a look at speed cameras in Washington DC and Maryland.
In the article, Glazer notes the problem of photos that do not include times down to at least the tenth of a second: "Without knowing the precise moment when each photograph was taken, it is impossible to say for certain how fast a vehicle was going between the takings of the two photographs."
Glazer, an administrative law judge with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, also pointed to examples from Washington DC that not only provide detailed time information, but also include measured markings along the road where speed cameras are set up. Using the markings, motorists can estimate about how far their vehicle traveled.
Glazer wrote that a district court judge would have insufficient evidence to tell how fast a car was really going based on photographs unless detailed time and distance information are provided.