WASHINGTON — A panel of Prince George’s County lawmakers in Annapolis could decide Wednesday whether to move forward with a bill that would place more speed cameras on Md. Route 210, also known as Indian Head Highway.
The long high-speed highway with numerous crossroads recorded nearly 60 fatalities between 2007 and 2017. But police say stepped-up enforcement since September — including speed cameras deployed in a work zone — has helped slow speeders and have reduced the number of crashes.
While speed cameras are generally restricted to school zones and work zones in Maryland, state lawmakers are considering a measure that would provide an exception to Prince George’s County so they could install speed cameras along the county’s stretch of Indian Head Highway.
“The main issue that people raise is they think [speed cameras] are another way for our government to get money out of our pockets,” said Ron Weiss of Fort Washington, vice president of the Indian Head Highway Area Action Council.
“I don’t see it as a big revenue generator. It is, however, a big lifesaver,” said Weiss, who is scheduled to testify Wednesday in favor of House Bill 175, which would carve out the exception for Prince George’s County, allowing speed cameras on the highway.
“Unfortunately, the fatalities that we’ve experienced in the last 10 years on Indian Head Highway are not in work zones. They’re not in school zones. They’re in straightaway areas of Indian Head Highway where the law currently doesn’t allow us to put a speed camera,” Weiss said.
AAA Mid-Atlantic, which has called attention to the proliferation of speed cameras in the region, doesn’t have an official position on HB 175, but it warns it could open the door to many other speed cameras throughout the state.
“There are other jurisdictions who would love to put speed cameras on high-speed highways,” said John Townsend, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Once that courtesy is given to Prince George’s County, the other localities will seek similar exemptions.”
According to the Maryland State Highway Administration, speed cameras in highway construction zones have slowed drivers throughout the state. When work zone cameras were deployed in 2010, seven of every 100 drivers were cited for speeding at least 12 miles per hour above the speed limit. Today, according to the SHA, just one of every 100 drivers is receiving a citation.
“What I do know is we have a group of concerned citizens … along Indian Head Highway that are very much concerned about the number of people dying on what is effectively our main street,” said Weiss.