Montgomery County Safe Speed Program Utilizes Portable Cameras
Montgomery County Safe Speed
Program Utilizes Portable Cameras
The Montgomery County Police Traffic Division, which administers the department’s automated traffic enforcement programs, has expanded the safe speed program with the deployment of four portable camera units. The department continues to utilize 6 mobile speed cameras in Safe Speed vans and 60 fixed location cameras at 39 locations.
Portable camera units operate on batteries and are typically deployed in existing sites on a temporary basis to provide increased safety zones where enforcement is necessary to address speeding issues. This resource provides the flexibility to monitor numerous locations of concern during a typical deployment cycle without the need for the permanent infrastructure found in fixed poles.
Portable camera units were deployed in December 2009 and continue to be evaluated for effectiveness and efficiency in numerous locations to include: the eastbound and westbound 6400 block of Democracy Boulevard near Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, in the eastbound and westbound 3700 block of Jones Bridge Road in North Chevy Chase near North Chevy Chase Elementary School, and the eastbound 3300 block of Randolph Road in Silver Spring near Wheaton High School.
The cameras are currently deployed in residential areas and school areas to answer community concerns that drivers have been observed slowing down in the enforcement locations and then speeding up again. The goal is to reinforce the importance of maintaining a safe speed in neighborhoods and particularly in areas where students are walking, driving, or being driven to school.
Montgomery County Police continue to urge drivers in the county to be aware of the posted speed limits and obey them. In 2007 there were 39 fatal collisions, to include 17 pedestrian fatals, 2 motorcycle fatals and 1 bicycle fatal. In 2008 there were 50 fatal collisions to include 19 pedestrian fatal collisions, and 7 motorcyclist fatals. In 2009 there were 34 fatal collisions, to include 14 pedestrian fatals, 1 bicycle fatal and 1 motorcycle fatal. In 2007 approximately 33% of collisions were speed-related; and in 2008 approximately 30% were speed-related. While there are several factors that affect the reduction of fatal collisions between 2008 and 2009, certainly the Safe Speed program is a contributing factor. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have published numerous reports that have found when motorists travel within 10 mph of the posted speed limit, the number of crashes is greatly decreased and of those that do occur, injuries are less severe in nature.
Approximately $21 million dollars was generated from paid speed camera citations in 2009. By law, once the cost of operating the program is paid, the remaining revenue must be dedicated to public safety, and traffic and pedestrian safety programs. Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett approved the use of the revenue raised by these fines to pay for, among other things, the staffing of Educational Facilities Police Officers in schools, the Central Gang Unit, Community Policing Officers at District Police stations, new Fire & Rescue apparatus, sidewalk construction, street lighting, the Safe Routes to School program, and this past December’s “Shop with a Cop” pedestrian and parking lot safety initiative in area shopping centers.
With the passage of new speed camera legislation in October of 2009, cameras activate when a vehicle is traveling12 miles over the posted speed limit. Cameras in officially designated school zones are operational year round but only between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Cameras may also be used in work zones and school zones throughout the state of Maryland. A $40.00 civil citation is issued to the owner of the vehicle but no points are assessed to one’s drivers license.
The Safe Speed program is managed and administered by the police department. The vendor, ACS Inc., receives a portion of each paid citation, but this private company does not operate the program, determine camera locations, or operate the camera equipment. Trained police employees operate the cameras and fully manage the program.
Speeding and related traffic complaints are one of the greatest concerns of the residents of Montgomery County. Montgomery County’s Safe Speed program identifies roadways that have chronic speed problems within residential areas or school zones and then, with community input, assesses the need for automated enforcement. The program attempts to positively affect traffic by creating safety zones where automated traffic enforcement slows speeds to within the established threshold (currently no more than 11 miles over the speed limit). Montgomery County Police continue to consistently conduct regular traffic enforcement by traffic and patrol officers.
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