Advocates worry speed cameras on deadly Md. highway will be short-lived

Highway safety advocates in Maryland are concerned about the future of speed cameras on Maryland Route 210.

More people have died driving on or crossing Maryland Route 210 than on any other highway in the region. The highway cuts across parts of Prince George’s and Charles counties in southern Maryland.

In 2019, lawmakers in Annapolis agreed to change the state law regarding speed cameras so they could be installed along the highway. Safety advocates said the three cameras put in place have been effective.

But they’ve also been busy. Every year, the cameras record tens of thousands of violations – each one resulting in a $40 ticket to the owner of the vehicle caught exceeding the speed limit by at least 12 miles per hour. Sometimes, it’s significantly higher than that amount.

Earlier this week, a group of safety advocates who spent years pushing for speed cameras argued it was time to increase the penalties for drivers caught going well above the posted limit. But they also sounded the alarm about the future of the cameras.

It took years for lawmakers to agree to amend the law so they could legally be posted along the highway, but the law also included a clause that would sunset those cameras in 2023 – meaning lawmakers would have to pass another law allowing them to continue taking snapshots of speeding drivers.

“We have to have these cameras to stay on board,” said Reverend Dr. Robert Screen. Screen leads the Route 210 Traffic Safety Committee, a grassroots group of residents who live along the 210 corridor and advocate for improved safety measures on the highway.

“These cameras caught 33,000 people and gave them citations,” in the last year of recorded data, said Screen. “What would it be without them?”

Noting that the cameras have caught drivers speeding as fast as 161 mph, he worries the removal of the cameras will embolden other drivers to go well beyond the posted 55 mph speed limit.

“I’m hearing that these cameras are really being used, being helpful, I don’t think the sunset will happen,” assured Del. Susie Proctor, who helps lead the legislative push for safety improvements on the highway in Annapolis. “I think it will be extended because that’s one of the tools that we’re using to help slow this traffic down, so I don’t think the sunset will actually take place.”

In fact, she notes that other jurisdictions hope to add more speed cameras in places where they’re otherwise not legal right now.

“We have other counties, and even local municipalities, who have come and asked if they can get these cameras in their particular locations,” said Proctor. “People are looking at this as maybe a way to slow traffic in all their jurisdictions.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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