Meet Silver Spring's Would-Be 'Speed Demons'

By Robert Thomson
Sunday, August 17, 2008

Alittle after 4 p.m. June 25, Terence and Helga Brennan turned their sensible subcompact onto Wayne Avenue, heading for home in Silver Spring. Driving up the avenue, they passed a Montgomery County speed enforcement camera, which is supposed to capture images of drivers going more than 10 mph over the 30 mph speed limit. It took their picture.

Terence, 68, and Helga, 76, paid the $40 fine promptly after receiving the citation in the mail. Like many people, they felt it wasn't worth the hassle of contesting the ticket in district court. Like very few, they also thought the county needed the money.

But the Brennans had some questions about their encounter with high-tech law enforcement.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Do you know of any technical problems that might cause a speed camera to register the wrong speed? We were supposedly clocked at 100 mph in a 30 mph zone during rush hour on Wayne Avenue between Sligo Creek Parkway and Dale Drive.

The road is winding there, and the traffic light at Wayne and Dale, where we turn left, is just a short way ahead of the cameras. We and our neighbors, who know well that even 40 mph would be dangerous at this stretch, wonder how the camera could come up with such a reading.

This speed would be impossible on the Beltway at the best of times, and we have never in our life driven at this speed. An inquiry to the Automated Traffic Enforcement Unit in Rockville has not been answered.

Helga Brennan

Silver Spring

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