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Speed cameras live in Prince George's County

By Gwendolyn Glenn, gglenn@patuxent.com

11:08 PM EDT, August 22, 2011

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Speed cameras made their debut on Prince George's County-managed roads Aug. 22 with two cameras going live in the 8400 and 9000 blocks of Allentown Road, in Fort Washington.

For the first 30 days, drivers going more than 12 miles over the speed limit will be given warning tickets, but after Sept. 21, the speed-camera tickets will carry a $40 fine.

According to county police spokesman Cpl. Evan Baxter, eight additional speed cameras will go up in the county on Sept. 21, including one in Laurel, near Montpelier Elementary School, in the 9000 block of Muirkirk Road.

Residents and school and elected officials have complained about speeding near the school for some time and supported a speed camera on Muirkirk Road. The area was on the county's top-10 priority list for a speed camera.

The warning period for drivers will be over when that first county-installed speed camera goes live in Laurel, meaning all drivers caught speeding in the area of the Muirkirk Road camera will have to pay a $40 fine.

"The warning period will be for the first two cameras only, from Aug. 22 through Sept. 21," Bazter said.

Although no points are assessed against drivers who receive a speed-camera ticket, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration does charge an additional $30 administrative fee for unpaid tickets.

Maryland state law only allows speed cameras in areas that are within a half-mile of a designated school zone. The cameras can only be operational on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., or when school activities are taking place.

In Laurel's city limits, there are five mobile speed cameras in operation. So far, county officials have identified 55 sites for cameras on their roads, with 58 more sites expected to be determined.

County Council member Mary Lehman, whose District 1 includes Laurel, said earlier that she hopes two Laurel elementary schools, Oaklands and Deerfield Run, who have students that cross Route 197 to walk to school, will be included on the county's list for future speed cameras.

Although some residents have criticized local government officials for allegedly using speed cameras as a revenue source to make up for budget shortfalls, the county maintains that the cameras are being installed as pedestrian-safety devices and as a means to get drivers to slow down, especially in school zones.