12/21/2018Baltimore, Maryland Speed Cams Generate 24,237 Bogus Tickets
Figures provided by Baltimore, Maryland suggest system is generating at least 24,237 erroneous violations.
The speed camera program in Baltimore, Maryland was rocked by scandal after an independent audit in 2014 revealed drivers were receiving speed camera tickets even when they were not speeding. On Wednesday, the city comptroller released a report suggesting the devices remain problematic, generating tickets with an error rate of at least 2.9 percent.
Over the ten month period covered by the report, that meant the speed camera equipment generated a total of 24,237 erroneous citations. For this report, however, the city auditor did not go to the same effort as the independent auditor four years ago by pulling actual speed camera photos and calculating whether the speed reading was remotely plausible.
Instead, the city provided the auditor with the number of complaints filed with the speed camera ombudsman as well as a count of the tickets rejected by city staff. The auditor chided officials for failing to properly track errors in accordance with the definitions found in state law.
"Without error reports, management is unable to track all occurrences where the contractor submitted inaccurate violations based on a technical variable that is under the vendor's control," the audit report noted. "In addition, without maintaining error reports, the automated traffic violation enforcement system is unable to determine if liquidated damages are due."
Under Baltimore's contract, the vendor American Traffic Solutions (ATS, now known as Verra Mobility) must pay $20 for each bogus ticket it creates once it crosses the erroneous ticket threshold of five percent. The Maryland Code defines an erroneous violation as a ticket submitted by a contractor that is "apparently inaccurate based on a technical variable that is under the control of the contractor."
Over the ten month period, Baltimore's privately operated red light cameras generated $4,827,141 in revenue and the speed cameras generated $7,127,096, for a total of $11,954,237, or $14.3 million on an annualized basis. The auditors also found the city ledgers improperly recorded automated ticket profit, resulting in a discrepancy of $1,467,655 in red light camera and speed camera income.
"We recommend the Department of Transportation ensure that reports of speed camera revenue collected are accurate and consistent," the report explained. "In addition, we recommend DOT consult with the Baltimore City Office of Information Technology to determine if BCIT can provide reports to assist in accurately calculating speed camera revenue collected. We also recommend the DOT reconcile any differences between BCIT reports and the DOT general ledger."
A copy of the audit report is available in a 1mb PDF file at the source link below.