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Howard Police add portable speed cameras in school zones

By Luke Lavoie, llavoie@tribune.com

1:39 PM EDT, August 20, 2013

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Howard County Police announced this week that two portable cameras will be added to its school zone speed camera program for the 2013-2014 school year.

The units, called portable camera units or PCUs, will be rotated between 13 school zones starting Monday, Aug. 26, the first day of school.

The PCUs will supplement the police department's two speed camera vans and be placed in zones where vans had problems setting up. The PCUs and the vans, which also will be deployed Aug. 26, are in operation from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Vehicles traveling 12 miles per hour over the speed limit will be issued $40 tickets.

The PCUs will be rotated weekly between four high schools — Atholton, Glenelg, Long Reach, Mt. Hebron — and nine elementary schools — Bushy Park, Centennial Lane, Dayton Oaks, Forest Ridge, Guilford, Jeffers Hill, Pointers Run, St. John's Lane, and Swansfield.

In March, police published the results of the speed camera program, which began in October 2011, and reported speeding had been reduced by 11 MPH in 65 percent of school zones.

Police also are continuing their Helping Arriving Students Through Enforcement, or H.A.S.T.E., program, which is aimed at raising awareness about traffic safety in school zones.

According to police, targeted patrols will on roadways near county schools for the first two weeks of the school year.

Preventive measures employed by police include the "You are Responsible" seminar, a requirement for all students applying for school parking permits. Police also employ a Collision Avoidance Training or (CAT) program, which teaches advanced defensive driving an vehicle control for drivers age 16 to 20.

In addition to police efforts, County Council member Calvin Ball has launched his "Keeps Kids Alive, Drive 25" campaign in his Oakland Mills neighborhood.

"School will be starting soon so we must be mindful of our speeds to protect our children, pedestrians and those at play in the neighborhood," said Ball.

Signs have been placed on Thunder Hill Road and Stevens Forest Road near Stevens Forest Elementary School.

Ball said the campaign started as a local initiative aimed at finding a short-term solution to speeding on Thunder Hill Road. Currently, two citizen-produced proposals that would place a combined nine speed humps on Thunder Hill are being prepared for submission to the county's Department of Public Works.