Baltimore Traffic Safety News: Speed Cameras Credited with Changes in Driving Behavior in Maryland School Zones

Depending on how one looks at it, so-called speed cameras either do nothing to improve traffic safety or decrease the chances of automobile collisions in dangerous and highly accident-prone intersections and roadways. As Maryland personal injury lawyers, as well as car and trucking accident attorneys, I and my colleagues can see the benefit of most any traffic safety device or effort where innocent lives are at stake.

While it has been reported previously that certain speed camera installations have not been effective in cutting the number of traffic collisions, others argue that these “big brother” devices do help to change the behavior of drivers when the existence of these cameras is made known to the motoring public.

Detractors likely point to reports documenting the use of more than a half-dozen speed cameras in and around Baltimore County a couple years ago; those 15 cameras apparently resulted in an initial drop in speeding by (and hence the issuing of speeding tickets to) motorists in a number of school zones. At the same time, however, the number of car accidents was reportedly not affected. Baltimore police deduced that although drivers did indeed slow down, the accident rate in those areas was apparently unaffected.

Of course, being injured in a car, truck or motorcycle wreck is not something to be taken lightly. Such collisions can result in a range of bodily injuries; both drivers and passengers can suffer cuts, bruises and deep lacerations to more life-threatening injuries, such as closed-head trauma and spinal cord damage. Severe injury can lead to lengthy hospital stays, expensive medical bills and extended rehabilitation.

To avoid vehicular collisions and pedestrian accidents, speed cameras may be showing their worth, if one believes the latest study conducted by an independent party, The Traffic Group, Inc. According to a press release from the manufacturer of Optotraffic speed cameras, this third-party study looked at the incidence of traffic-related accidents in Forest Heights, Seat Pleasant, Mount Rainier and Riverdale Park.

Based on its study, The Traffic Group compiled speed and crash data from each of these four municipalities prior to the installation of speed cameras. As a result, a “before and after” report was submitted to Maryland’s State Highway Administration (SHA) showing that over 100,000 incidents of speeding were recorded during the evaluation period across all four municipalities.

A dramatic improvement was apparently revealed in the Seat Pleasant area where placement of speed cameras reportedly resulted in a nearly 10-fold increase in posted speed conformance along a stretch of Maryland Rte 704 east. This kind of result was to be expected based on previous experience, however the study also found that traffic collisions in the school zone covered by that particular camera installation dropped significantly; from 25 traffic accidents involving property damage and 20 injury-related accidents in fiscal year 2010, to two property-damage crashes and one personal injury crash the following year.

Based on the press release, signs were posted in the areas containing the cameras to alert motorists about the speed monitoring cameras. These signs, as well as the cameras were reportedly posted prominently in school zones, however the study noted that driver behavior shifted progressively over many months, and not immediately as some would imagined.

Optotraffic Speed Cameras Cause Significant Driver Behavior Change in School Zones,, October 27, 2011

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