The city’s resurrected traffic camera program got off to a troubled start late last month, officials revealed Monday.
The new cameras began issuing speeding tickets on July 31, following a 30-day grace period in which drivers got warnings in the mail. But thanks to a glitch, many speeding tickets issued from cameras on that first day didn’t count.
That’s because American Traffic Solutions, the company receiving $5.4 million over the next five years to run Baltimore’s 10 portable speed cameras, accidentally issued duplicate copies of civil citations for speeding, according to a release. Department of Transportation spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes said 962 drivers in all received duplicate tickets.
The problem wasn’t with the equipment, Barnes noted, but rather was a “processing error” after the speeding violations had been recorded. Some tickets from that day weren’t duplicated and were properly processed, so a number of drivers did wind up having to pay their $40 citations, anyway.
But the transportation department says most speeders photographed on July 31 “will get a break.” Any duplicate tickets issued that day have been voided as a result.
Motorists who were captured speeding should have already received their since-voided citations. The department says American Traffic Solutions mailed them out on Aug. 7 and Aug. 8, and has already sent letters to drivers about it.
Baltimore has seen its share of problems with traffic cameras. Four years ago, the city cancelled its speed camera program after officials learned the devices were issuing thousands of false tickets. The operators were profiting off of commissions paid by the city for each citation. Officials later testified it’d become too large to manage, with more than 160 speed and red light cameras spread around the city.
But that’s not the case here, officials say. In fact, DOT says all the speed readings were accurate on July 31. Furthermore, Maryland law now bars vendors from receiving a cut of the revenue from camera-recorded traffic violations. The city instead paid a flat fee to American Traffic Solutions and Conduent, Inc. The latter firm is getting more than $4 million to operate more than a dozen new red light and commercial truck enforcement cameras for the next five years.
The red light cams are now halfway through their warning period. They’ll start issuing $75 tickets at the end of this month.
This story has been updated with comment from the Department of Transportation.