Eight more traffic cameras are now ready to snap your picture and send you a ticket in the mail.
At midnight last night, the 30-day warning period for Baltimore’s new red light cameras ended, and they’ve since begun issuing $75 automated tickets. The city currently has eight in operation – two fewer than Mayor Catherine Pugh’s initial plan called for – affixed at intersections around the city.
“My message to everybody is drive slow, drive slow, drive slow,” Pugh said at a press conference this morning. She urged residents to drive more cautiously through city streets. “It’s not a raceway. We’ve had too many accidents, we’ve had too many people running red lights.”
Unlike the speed-monitoring cameras operating in seven school zones, which run from 6 a.m. through 8 p.m. on weekdays, the red light cameras will be running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The fine is also steeper than the $40 charge for speeding.
Baltimore has a troubled history with traffic cameras. The old system grew too large, with more than 160 cameras spread around the city and not enough staff to check they were working properly. Officials eventually scrapped the program in 2013 after they learned the devices were issuing false tickets to drivers.
Mayor Pugh has promised the new, much smaller system will work differently. The Department of Transportation so far has installed less than 20 of them, and has appointed an ombudsman to handle complaints from drivers.
Even so, the program began on a bad note in late July. On the first day that the speed cams issued tickets, officials found operator American Traffic Solutions had mistakenly sent duplicate copies to drivers. Department of Transportation spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes told Baltimore Fishbowl two weeks later that 962 drivers’ speeding tickets were voided as a result.
Mayor Pugh remained optimistic about her very young traffic camera program at City Hall this morning. “So far, so good,” she said about potential glitches. Asked how residents can trust in the devices four years after they stopped working properly, Pugh said Baltimore in 2017 is “technologically more savvy today than we were back then.”
The next round of cameras will be the kind that track commercial truck drivers. Those found to be illegally driving on routes reserved for cars will get a warning the first time around, a $250 fine the second time and $500 fines for subsequent infractions. The city hasn’t revealed where they will be installed, but said there will be up to six.
New Jersey-based Conduent, Inc. is being paid $4.2 million over five years to run the red light and commercial truck cameras. American Traffic Solutions, based in Arizona, is receiving $5.4 million.
The red light cameras are now operational at the following intersections:
- Reisterstown Road (southbound) at Patterson Avenue;
- East North Avenue (westbound) at North Howard Street;
- S. Monroe Street (northbound) at Washington Boulevard;
- S. Monroe Street (southbound) at Washington Boulevard;
- Belair Road (southbound) at Erdman Avenue;
- Erdman Avenue (eastbound) at Belair Road;
- Pulaski Highway (eastbound) at North Point Road;
- N. Calvert Street (northbound) at East Baltimore Street.
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