Prince George's County to add almost 50 more red light cameras

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Local,Maryland,Kate Jacobson

Prince George's County is planning to add almost 50 red light cameras as well as 20 school bus cameras that would ticket motorists who pass buses picking up and unloading children.

The Prince George's County Police Department is accepting bids for companies to provide the technology, which would give the county a total of 72 red light cameras, said Lt. Bill Alexander, a spokesman for the department. The county currently has 25 red light cameras, which would be replaced in the new bid.

"Technology is changing so rapidly," Alexander said. "[The county] puts out new bids because the new equipment has sharper pictures and the images are more clear."

Out with cameras?
Some Maryland lawmakers are considering outlawing speed cameras.
State Sen. Jim Brochin, D-Baltimore County, said he doesn't have faith in speed cameras and wants the state speed camera law suspended. Failing that, he wants to introduce tighter legislation to fix accuracy issues, WBAL radio in Baltimore reported.
Brochin voted against plans to allow speed cameras in Maryland a few years ago, and he says vendors should be given a flat fee and not paid by the number of tickets it distributes.

The county issued 39,500 red light violations since the beginning of 2012. Since September 2011 -- when the county started installing speed and red light cameras -- Prince George's has raked in about $8 million from all its cameras combined, Alexander said. He said he did not know how much the red light cameras alone produced in revenue, and the county has slightly more than 100 speed cameras.

Red light cameras charge violators $75, speed cameras charge $40, and the proposed fine for drivers who don't yield to stopped buses would be $100.

The profits would be split through a contractual agreement between the county and the company that would manage the equipment.

Speed, red light and bus cameras are all allowed under Maryland law, but in Virginia, only red light cameras are permitted.

AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend said most research shows red light cameras are effective, with much data showing a decrease in tickets and crashes in intersections, though experts have dissenting opinions.

"All the evidence shows they save lives and they reduce the number of injuries," he said.

He said he thinks the move will make the county safer in the long run, though he cautioned the county to be careful about falsely ticketing people who don't run the light but go over the white line slightly. He added he hopes the initiative was driven by safety concerns, not economic ones.

Maria McKinney, a county police spokeswoman, said the department hopes the new cameras will be operational by March.

The police have not decided where to put the cameras, though McKinney said she expects all the cameras to be installed intermittenly during 2013 in areas with heavy traffic flow.

"They would be placed strategically throughout the county," she said.

kjacobson@washingtonexaminer.com

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Kate Jacobson

Montgomery County reporter
The Washington Examiner