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P.G. plans to install 113 speed cameras

Many would be in school zones

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Prince George's County officials are planning to put mobile speed cameras in more than 100 locations, two years after the previous county executive nixed a similar plan.

The County Council held a hearing Tuesday to consider public testimony on the locations for the devices, which detect motorists exceeding the speed limit by 12 or more miles per hour. Offenders are photographed and sent a $40 ticket.

The General Assembly first legalized the devices in 2009.

Maryland law allows the state, Prince George's County and its municipalities to place cameras within a half-mile of schools or universities. The state may also post cameras in highway work zones.

The county plans to eventually install cameras at 113 sites, 55 of which would be in already-designated school zones.

All of the county's existing cameras are operated by municipalities or the state. The County Council initially passed legislation in 2009 to post its own cameras, but the plan was shot down by then-County Executive Jack B. Johnson, a Democrat, who argued the cameras would serve as an unpopular tax on residents.

While supporters say speed cameras improve safety and protect children, some residents and officials have argued they are little more than moneymaking devices.

Residents have alleged municipal cameras have often been placed in areas designed to catch the most speeders while having little effect on traffic near schools. Some have also successfully challenged tickets in court by arguing that the cameras give flawed readings.

AAA Mid-Atlantic issued a statement Tuesday warning that officials should "ensure integrity" in their speed-camera program. The group said it has noticed many cameras are set up too far from the schools they are designed to protect.

"It appears that in a number of cases the mobile speed camera program in some jurisdictions in the county violates the spirit and the letter of the law in Maryland," John B. Townsend, AAA Mid-Atlantic's manager of public and government affairs, said in the statement.

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