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Crashes continue to get worse in Baltimore, even as traffic cameras expand

The number of serious automobile crashes continues to rise in Baltimore, even as the city is rapidly expanding its speed camera system.

The city experienced 214 crashes that resulted in serious injury or death in fiscal year 2014, when speed cameras were deactivated in Baltimore. But in fiscal year 2017, after Mayor Catherine Pugh resurrected the camera program and quickly expanded it, the number of serious crashes rose to 574, according to the latest report from the city’s Department of Transportation.

The new crash data comes as the city has moved to add dozens more speed and red light cameras to its network in an effort to deter speeders and raise revenue.

Last year, Baltimore increased the number of traffic cameras to 100 from 56. In July, transportation officials announced they were setting up traffic cameras in 37 new locations throughout the city — 27 of them to monitor speed.

But four months later, City Councilman Ryan Dorsey said many of the promised cameras are not yet activated. Of the five cameras announced for his northeast Baltimore district, just one is operational, Dorsey said.

“There have been six or seven really bad crashes just recently along Harford Road,” Dorsey said. “Despite these incidents, the department has done nothing to alter the roadway to discourage unsafe driving. They neglected to put in a camera for months and months and months. As the numbers show the dangers of driving continue to get worse in Baltimore, the inaction of the Department of Transportation demonstrates a lack of urgency.”

Charles A. Turner, Baltimore’s director of speed and red light cameras, wrote in an email responding to Dorsey’s concerns that officials were working to install the cameras “as soon as possible.”

He blamed the slow implementation of the cameras in part on the heavy rain in recent weeks.

According to city data, about half of Baltimore’s speed camera violators don’t live in the city. Since the camera program was revived, about 53 percent of drivers cited for $40 fines live in Baltimore. Most of the rest live in the surrounding counties of Baltimore, Howard and Anne Arundel.

The most common violators from outside of the city limits are from Parkville, Owings Mills, Gwynn Oak, Windsor Mill and Randallstown, according to the data.

Under Maryland law, speed cameras may only issue tickets to vehicles traveling 12 or more miles per hour greater than the speed limit.

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