Recently, Baltimore County-based delegates introduced a bill to the General Assembly that seeks expand the use of speed cameras in the county.
House Bill 1171 was introduced by Delegates Michele Guyton, Carl Jackson, Nick Allen, Catherine Forbes and Dana Stein, where the proposal will allow speed cameras on any road with a speed limit of 35 mph or less.
In Baltimore County, using speed cameras anywhere other than school zones must be approved by legislators in Annapolis. This bill will eliminate that step and give Baltimore County the direct ability to place speed cameras on roads that have a speed limit of 35 mph or less.
According to Guyton, the bill was introduced in response to concerns over traffic safety from local community groups.
“They were really worried about their specific areas and their communities that they felt were public safety risks,” Guyton said. “There are certain places that community members realized are very dangerous because of the high speeds from the drivers moving through them.”
Currently, the bill is at the point of being in referral committees before its second reading. If processed through Annapolis, the legislation will go into effect Oct. 1.
Labeling the legislation as a “small government bill,” Guyton believes the expansion of speed cameras in Baltimore County will help streamline the process of placing them beyond school zones.
The bill outlines that cameras can be placed on residential districts that include “a highway where the property along the highway, for a distance of at least 300 feet, is improved mainly with residences or residences and buildings used for business.”
Other jurisdictions like Montgomery County and Prince George’s County have passed similar legislation in previous years.
“From my understanding, many other counties are going to follow suit,” Guyton said. “Montgomery County, in particular, has done some really great reporting—they do see significant improvement in public safety.”
Despite the implementation of the new measure, Montgomery County had 40 fatal car crashes in 2022 compared to 33 deadly collisions in 2021.
District 7 Delegates Ryan Nawrocki and Kathy Szeliga have spoken vehemently against the bill.
In a previous column, both local representatives say the proposed legislation will give Baltimore County “carte blanche over the number of speed cameras installed.”
The two District 7 delegates had also put out a petition for constituents to sign against the speed camera bill that does not display how many people have signed on.
“There are no limitations on the placement of speed cameras,” Nawrocki said. “The way this bill is constructed it will essentially allow limitless speed cameras on basically any corner in Baltimore County.”
Currently, Baltimore County has speed cameras planted in 36 elementary schools, 16 middle schools, 14 high schools and eight private schools.
Nawrocki said he is also concerned with how the bill will have state legislators stepping down their authority to oversee where speed cameras are placed in their jurisdictions.
Del. Szeligia echoed her colleague’s thoughts, saying she believed delegates and senators should be considered in adding local speed cameras.
“In the [county] council there are only seven members and you expect your representative to be an expert in their area, so one council member could make decisions on hundreds of speed cameras versus coming to Annapolis and having 20 delegates that are weighing in,” Szeliga said.
Speed camera tickets are a $40 fine in Baltimore County, where no license points are given to violators because they are civil violations.
According to Baltimore County, motorists exceeding the speed limit by at least 12 miles per hour will receive warnings rather than citations in the first 30 days after a camera is activated.
In 2018, Baltimore County collected $5.7 million in speed camera tickets.
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