COLLEGE PARK — Officials in Prince George’s County plan to install 55 new speed cameras over the next year, prompting criticism from drivers in the county.
There are currently 17 cameras in operation on county roads. The county plans to add around six a month, bringing the total to 72 by August.
The next camera will be added Friday, Oct. 21, on the 500-1100 block of Brightseat Road in Hyattsville.
A spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic said they are opposed to tickets issued by the new cameras because they are extremely difficult to challenge in court.
(Credit: Katie Smith/Capital News Service)
“If you’re going to contest a ticket, you now need to have an attorney or you need to have an expert witness,” AAA Mid-Atlantic Manager of Public and Government Affairs John Townsend said.
The costs of the legal process simply outweigh the price of paying the government and its contractor, Townsend said. Each ticket costs the penalized driver $40.
The county began issuing fines for speeders captured by the cameras on Sept. 21 after a month-long period during which violators were issued warnings.
The cameras photograph drivers traveling 12 miles or more above the speed limit, Prince George’s Police Major Robert Liberati said.
The Prince George’s Police Department said the cameras will reduce speeding and accidents, especially in school zones.
“We’ve seen from our municipal partners up to a 90 percent drop in speeding at the locations the cameras are deployed,” Liberati said.
The cameras are operated by an outside vendor, Optotraffic, a Maryland-based company chosen by Prince George’s County because its cameras can be easily moved to new locations.
The City of College Park has used Optotraffic cameras on its roads since November 2010.
Optotraffic receives 39 percent of the revenue from the tickets. As of this month, College Park had received $3.98 million from speed camera tickets and had given $1.55 million to Optotraffic.
“The contractors are getting a slice of every ticket and, one has to worry, does that affect the integrity of the system?” said Ron Ely, editor of the website www.stopbigbrothermd.org, which has editorialized against the cameras.
The tickets can come as a surprise to those who receive them.
Pennsylvania resident Peter Seibert commutes to College Park for work and has received multiple tickets in the mail.
“To be honest, I sort of look upon it as a municipal tax,” Seibert said. “It was irritating, it was frustrating to me. I’m not particularly fond of them.”
Prince George’s County Police say the cameras are in operation from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.