Illegal right turn camera bill unlikely to pass

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Red-light cameras catch people driving through stoplights at high speeds, who can cause deadly crashes. They also catch people making right turns on red without coming to a complete stop, often rolling at a slow speed.

A bill in Maryland to make it illegal to ticket for those rolling right turns met skepticism before state delegates and is likely to be rejected.

Del. Neil Parrot, R-Washington County, said he believes that counties and towns are making too much money from tickets given out for this type of turn, adding that those turns are not as dangerous as the straight through violations.

“The major reason the General Assembly approved the red-light cameras was to protect against … T-bones, the second-most dangerous collision you can have. Ticketing people who are turning right on red — it doesn’t prevent anything. It’s just a tax on motorists who are unsuspecting,” says Parrot.

But committee members peppered him with questions about the impact on pedestrians. One lawmaker suggested that the bill would teach drivers bad habits. Another suggested that the measure would put constituents at risk in his pedestrian-heavy district.

Montgomery County Police Capt. Tom Didone, who runs the county’s speed and red-light cameras, testified against the bill.

“If you’re a pedestrian and you get hit by a 2,000-pound car going 5 or 10 [mph], you are going to the hospital,” says Didone.

“The difference between a police officer and a traffic engineer is that they’re looking at studies and crashes, and we are the people who are picking the people up and working with the ambulances on the road,” he adds.

The bill goes before the Subcommittee on Transportation next week.

Del. Pamela Beidle, D-Anne Arundel County, who chairs the subcommittee, said she’s skeptical of the bill, although she stopped short of saying it will be rejected. But several other subcommittee members shared reservations, perhaps signaling the end of the line for the bill.

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