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Posted at 10:46 AM ET, 10/21/2011

Howard County debuts speed cameras in school zones

Howard County launched a speed camera program in school zones this week, officials said, following other Maryland jurisdictions that have used a state law passed in 2009 to try to induce drivers to slow down.

Howard is equipping two vans with speed cameras and plans to monitor different school zones each day, officials said. Signs will be posted identifying school zones as speed camera areas, and police plan to post a list of the roads where the cameras are active online.

“Speeding in neighborhoods is the most frequent complaint we hear from citizens,” Police Chief William McMahon said in a statement. “We conducted a year-long speed study in school zones to see for ourselves if speeding truly is a problem there. The simple answer to that question is yes.”

The studies, conducted within a half-mile of each school for two days each, found that two-thirds of cars were traveling above the posted speed limits, police said. About 18 percent were at least 12 mph over, which is the threshold set by the state legislature for speed camera fines, they said.

State law limits speed camera enforcement in school zones to Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. The registered owner of the car captured on camera receives a ticket with a $40 fine in the mail within 14 days of the event. The violation does not result in points on the owner’s driver’s license.

Similar programs are in force in Prince George’s County, which expanded to more school zones this summer, and Montgomery County.

The 2009 law also allows placement of the cameras in work zones. One of the active areas includes the Beltway between New Hampshire Avenue and University Boulevard.

By  |  10:46 AM ET, 10/21/2011

 
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