If you think that you and your family are safer on Baltimore, Annapolis and Washington, D.C, streets — thanks in part to those “eyes in the sky,” otherwise known as speed cameras — you may be riding on false hope. Traffic safety takes many different guises and what our state and others legislate in the way of safety doesn’t always pan out. For anyone who has been involved in a serious car, motorcycle or trucking accident, the time for increased road safety is woefully late in coming.
As Maryland personal injury lawyers, I and my staff daily see the headlines and nightly news stories of drivers and passengers injured by the negligence of other motorists. From minor cuts and bruises to life-threatening head, neck and spinal trauma, a traffic collision can be devastating not only in terms of physical pain and life-long disability, but it also can destroy a family’s finances and its economic future.
Especially in these difficult times, the cost of medical care following a tragic car or motorcycle wreck can strip a family of its monetary safety net. Any rehabilitation after discharge from the hospital can also whittle away at a young family’s savings, causing the physical injures to be compounded by emotional ones.
All around the country, towns and cities have been placing speed cameras at intersections to catch motorists who flout the law. Unfortunately, while some may feel that these cameras reduce auto accidents by placing drivers in the spotlight, their effectiveness has been called into question. According to a recent news article, these remote video cameras have resulted in less speeding, but not reduced the number of automobile and truck accidents.
Here in Baltimore County, authorities placed 15 speed cameras around the area in 2009; locating them in school zones in an attempt to cut speeding and reduce accidents at the same time. However, a study released not long ago found that the in the first five months that the units were in operation, there was a dramatic drop in speeding tickets issued to drivers via these cameras — for anyone who wonders, the cameras were programmed to detect and identify drivers who exceeded the speed limit by 12mph.
Surprisingly to some, those same cameras did not affect the number of accidents in the areas in which they were located. Reportedly, local authorities are declaring the speed camera program a success. As a result, drivers are indeed slowing down, according to the Baltimore County Police Department, but the accident rate has not been affected.
In fact, during a meeting at the Towson Public Library, police officials told residents that there were 1,800 accidents within a half-mile of the state’s public and private school zones. According to reports, emphasis has been on protecting children and people who walking across the street in these school zones. Apparently, pedestrian accidents were not broken out in the study, so its difficult to say with certainty of the program has saved lives on persons on foot in crosswalks.
According to the Baltimore County Police, speeding citations issued by those cameras decreased by 51.5 percent. This is based on a comparison between the first week of camera operation last August and December last year — in August, the cameras issued 4,180 tickets compared with only 2,100 in December. During that same period, the accident rate showed “no statistical change” within a one-eighth and one-quarter mile radius of the cameras.
Speed Cameras: Less Speeding, Same Accidents, Patch.com, February 1, 2011