Business owner casts reasonable doubt on accuracy of speed cameras

PG business owner gets tickets tossed

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Supporters of the devices have argued they reduce speeding over time and increase safety, while many opponents call them a cash cow for local governments.

Mr. Foreman’s tickets were all issued in Forest Heights, a town of about 2,600 where officials expected $2.9 million in ticket revenue this fiscal year, about half the town’s $5.8 million budget.

In Prince George’s County, cameras are operated entirely by municipalities, which can set them up within half-mile school zones. The devices are installed by vendors that typically receive about 40 percent of the payout on each ticket, with the rest going to local, county and state government.

Municipalities other than Forest Heights also use Optotraffic cameras. The Lanham-based vendor also serves New Carrollton, Mount Rainier and College Park as well as the city of Cambridge in Dorchester County, Md.

Optotraffic representatives said the photos are not intended to capture the actual act of speeding, and are taken nearly 50 feet down the road from sensors as a way to prove the vehicle was on the road.

“No one has come to us with a proven error,” company spokesman Mickey Shepherd said Tuesday. “Their speed is not measured by the photos. The speed is measured before the photos are taken.”

An Optotraffic technician was sworn in and offered the company’s defense in the courtroom on Wednesday to no avail.

Mr. Foreman didn’t buy it either. He said it was unlikely that his vehicles slowed significantly after passing the sensors, as photos typically show them with their brake lights off.

While Judge O'Brien let Mr. Foreman off the hook, he ruled against several other accused speeders who based their not-guilty pleas largely on gut feelings that the cameras were flawed, while reducing the fines for some who pleaded guilty.

A Forest Heights official declined to comment after court proceeding.

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