Maryland Speed Camera Fraud

maryland state news - tony mcconkeyIt is a violation of the public trust to continue to collect revenue from speed cameras that are inaccurate.  Baltimore City and other local governments should immediately issues refunds when a citation is false, and government has a duty to be proactive and to verify all cameras are working correctly.

 

City official worried in July speed camera problems could ‘get out of hand’.  Third city camera shown to record inaccurate speed

By Scott Calvert and Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun, Dec 4, 2012

City transportation officials were so worried four months ago about inaccurate speeding tickets coming from an automated camera on Cold Spring Lane that a supervisor ordered the problem fixed before it could “get out of hands,” documents obtained by The Baltimore Sun show.

Yet the camera remained in operation, continuing to record erroneous citations. And it was only last month that the city said it was investigating the source of the errors.

Meanwhile, evidence emerged Tuesday of problems at another speed camera miles away. The Sun determined that a camera on Walther Avenue in Northeast Baltimore ticketed a Toyota sedan for traveling 56 mph, even though time-stamped photos and a measurement of the pavement show it was moving 34 mph, not fast enough to warrant a $40 ticket.

The developments come amid renewed scrutiny of Baltimore’s speed cameras, with the city employing a new “reasonableness” test of the tickets’ accuracy, a top transportation official saying he lacks confidence in the cameras’ radar and continuing calls to shut down some cameras temporarily while problems are investigated.

The Sun’s findings bring to three the number of city speed cameras with documented inaccuracies, and the city says it’s also investigating a fourth camera, in the 3800 block of Greenspring Avenue.

Chris Gilligan, a spokesman for the city’s speed camera contractor, Xerox State & Local Solutions, said the government and the company are conducting a comprehensive review of all 83 speed cameras in the city. “We believe the system-wide error rate is below 1 percent,” Gilligan added.

Nonetheless, critics of the speed camera program renewed calls Tuesday for some cameras to be shut down until the errors are explored and the breadth of the problem is determined, an idea that has also been advocated by some City Council members.

“These issues are obviously widespread and not limited to one or two specific cameras,” said Ragina Averella, a member of a task force formed by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to review the city’s red-light and speed camera system.

Councilman Brandon Scott introduced a resolution this week calling for an investigative hearing on the city’s speed camera program.

“We want to have DOT [ the Department of Transportation] come before us and tell us how they’re addressing these erroneous tickets and make sure they’re not happening moving forward,” he told fellow council members at a lunch Monday.

Both the city and Xerox, a unit of the office technology company Xerox Corp., have said the erroneous speed readings on Cold Spring Lane were limited to trucks. “Now we’re seeing it’s obviously an issue with cars,” said Averella, public and government affairs manager for driver-advocacy group AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Asked about the Walther Avenue camera, city Transportation Department spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes issued a statement saying the agency “takes any possible camera errors seriously” and “will do everything possible to prevent technical equipment errors and ensure the program continues to improve traffic safety in Baltimore.”

Barnes also said the city and Xerox are “continuing a rigorous investigation of the Cold Spring location and additional measures have been put in place to eliminate potential errors pending the results of the investigation.” The Sun has documented an erroneous ticket at that location as recently as Nov. 15.

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