11/3/2009Maryland Cities Create School Zones for Speed Camera Use
Baltimore and New Carrollton, Maryland create new school zones in areas that have no children for the purpose of installing speed cameras.
Maryland cities will create brand new "school zones" in an attempt to issue speed camera tickets on roads that previously had no need of the designation. When the state legislature authorized speed cameras six months ago in response to a $690,506 lobbying campaign from photo ticketing and insurance companies, lawmakers mandated that the cameras could only be used within a half mile of a school zone. Baltimore is among the first to admit that it will bypass that restriction.
"You asked if the locations for speed cameras were all pre-existing school zones," Baltimore engineer Rainna P. Strauss wrote in an email exchange obtained by the StopBigBrotherMD.org website. "No they were not."
The city's plan is to take a number of roads that are within the legally required distance to a school but are in areas where children do not regularly walk. Baltimore will install "school zone" signs on these roads for the sole purpose of meeting the legal requirement that the speed cameras be used only in a school zone. The new zones include Charles Street at Lake Avenue, Northern Parkway at Greenspring, Pulaski Highway at Monument Street and Roland Avenue at West Cold Spring.
Baltimore is not alone. In New Carrollton, two of the five proposed speed camera locations were not in actual, existing school zones.
"Speaking as a parent of two small children myself," the editor of StopBigBrotherMD.org wrote, "if these were legitimate locations for school zones we might ask why public officials put the safety of children at risk by not bothering to do the inexpensive bare minimum step of marking the locations as school zones and alerting drivers to the presence of a school nearby... until there was a revenue motive for doing so.
The following videos document the lack of school zone signs using Google street view: Baltimore locations. View New Carrollton locations.
The Maryland Department of Transportation also announced yesterday that it would delay the start of automated ticketing on Interstates 95 and 695 for at least another two weeks. These cameras are designed to ticket vehicles passing through the state in "work zones" where the speed limit has been lowered to 45 MPH but workers are not necessarily present. The majority of workers in work zones are injured by their own equipment, not by automobiles, according to accident reports.