The Maryland Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would allow local governments throughout the state to place speed cameras in highway work zones and school zones.
Only Montgomery County has speed cameras in residential areas, including school zones.
The Senate bill initially allowed for speed cameras to be placed in highway work zones statewide. But the bill was amended to include school zones, which supporters say is needed for safety reasons.
“Do you care about our children? It’s that simple,” said Sen. James Robey, D-Howard County.
Opponents of the bill said cameras could be placed within a half-mile of a school, effectively allowing local governments to place them almost anywhere. They added that the cameras could be unfairly used as a “cash cow” for cash-strapped governments to boost revenues.
“If you’re for this, you’re for speed cameras everywhere and it’s not good public policy,” said Sen. Alex Mooney, R-Frederick.
The bill would allow local governments to send $40 tickets to drivers who are caught by speed cameras going more than 12 miles over the speed limit in work zones or school zones. The tickets wouldn’t be considered a moving violation and wouldn’t go on a driver’s record.
Opponents of speed cameras said it would be better for police officers to enforce speeding laws because they can write tickets to match the offense, including writing bigger tickets for excessive speeding. They also said that speed cameras are prone to mistakes, and many drivers are unfairly sent tickets they don’t deserve.
Proponents of the bill said speed cameras are an effective deterrent against speeding and have reduced accidents in Montgomery County.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett has proposed nearly doubling the number of speed cameras the county uses and expects a corresponding increase in revenue.
The cameras have been the subject of a number of lawsuits in the county, including one saying that the $16.25 cut of each ticket the county gives to a private contractor is unlawful.