Md. highway administration defends speed camera program

WASHINGTON – The Maryland State Highway Administration is defending its speed cameras after a state lawmaker called for local jurisdictions to audit the devices and submit the results to the General Assembly.

“The calibrations are done on the equipment every day,” says Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) spokeswoman Valerie Edgar about the department’s speed cameras.

While SHA’s speed cameras don’t record times down to the tenth of a second, Edgar says they are accurate.

“The operator certifies that,” she says.

Maryland Delegate Jon Cardin, D-Baltimore County, who called for the audits, also proposed legislation that would fine any jurisdiction $1,000 every time a driver is issued what he calls a “bogus” citation.

Cardin’s proposal comes after The Baltimore Sun found inaccuracies with five of Baltimore City’s 83 speed cameras. The paper also found the alleged speeds on the tickets issued by SHA, Howard County and Baltimore County could not be verified.

A legislative audit critical of SHA’s use of speed cameras said the agency did not conduct enough tests to ensure the accuracy of the cameras.

“We’re confident that it’s (speed camera program) working well, and we’ll be working with legislators to make sure we can provide as much information to be as transparent as possible,” Edgar says.

Cardin isn’t the first lawmaker to call for changes to how local jurisdictions operate their speed camera programs.

Sen. James Brochin, another Baltimore County Democrat, wants to see cameras in school zones limited to school hours. He also does not want local governments to pay contractors a fee based on how many tickets are issued.

With the General Assembly session a month away, Delegate James E. Malone Jr., D- Baltimore County and Howard County, tells the Sun the Motor Vehicles and Transportation subcommittee will look at an overhaul of the state’s speed camera law.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @KateRyanWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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