Md. Senate approves cameras to catch neighborhood speeders


The Maryland Senate voted yesterday to allow local governments to install automated radar cameras to snare drivers speeding through residential neighborhoods and school zones.

The debate was more subdued than the previous day's, when several senators tried to gut the bill. Opponents argued that the measure marks the beginning of a slippery slope toward eroding citizens' rights, but senators voted 30-17 to approve it.

The radar cameras, similar to the cameras used in Maryland to catch drivers running red lights, would allow police to issue $100 speeding tickets through the mail for those who travel more than 10 mph over the speed limit.

Yesterday, Sen. Alex X. Mooney, a Frederick County Republican and a bill opponent, read from a newspaper op-ed piece by a woman who received four expensive tickets in one week in Washington, which widely uses the cameras.

"Since the speeding radar system has been implemented, 2,438 erroneous speeding tickets have been issued. This proves that the system is not foolproof as the District claims. The officers operating these radars are making numerous mistakes," and the city has had to reimburse those wrongly fined, he read.

The chamber erupted in laughter, though, when he got to this line: "Terrified of getting more speeding tickets and incurring even more debt, I have become obsessed with driving within the speed limit."

That is the argument proponents of the bill are trying to make - the cameras will help enforce safer driving. Some argued that speeding traffic is one of the most serious problems in their districts.

The House of Delegates version of the bill is in committee. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has said he is leaning against the legislation.

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