The Maryland Court system issued a report on speed enforcement that pokes a very big hole in the widespread assumption that police only give out tickets for drivers going at least 10 miles over the limit. The report shows that nearly a quarter of all speeding citations in the state were issued for speed 1 to 9 miles over the limit. In many cases, such strict enforcement is used in “hot zones” where added safety is required such as around schools or road construction sites. That’s exactly where and how Optotraffic’s portable speed cameras are used. The only difference being is that in Maryland, speed camera enforcement allows for a higher tolerance. Drivers must be exceeding the speed limit by at least 12 miles per hour to receive a speed camera citation.
The Royal Automobile Club of Britain recently published a highly detailed study of the effectiveness of speed cameras. The study took into account a wide variety of facets that could influence whether or not speed cameras were responsible for reductions or that other factors may have led to the reductions. The conclusion was : “The evidence is that on the average speed cameras are effective in reducing collisions and saving lives.” The full study can be found at http://www.racfoundation.org/assets/rac_foundation/content/downloadables/speed_camera_data_revised-allsop-nov2013.pdf.
As one recent news report said, “It’s not bullets or bad guys.” Live traffic stops hold the most danger for law enforcement and result in the most fatalities. From car crashes to armed and dangerous drivers, traffic stops are the most dangerous duty for law enforcement officers. That’s one of the reasons that police departments around the country are adopting automated enforcement programs, such as speed cameras to enforce traffic regulations. It’s just common sense that the cameras are safer than having officers in cars, standing by the side of the road, or approaching unknown vehicles. In addition, of course, automated systems free officers for more pressing law enforcement duties.
In a report issued by the National Center for Safe Routes to School, from 2007 to 2012 the percentage of K-Eight Grade students walking and biking to school in the morning rose from 12.4 percent to 15.7 percent. In the afternoon, the number of children rose from 15.8 percent to 19.7 percent. The Center ascribed some of this rise to the support provided by schools for walking and biking as a healthy alternative. In fact, during the five year period, the number of schools actively supporting walking and biking rose from 24.9 percent to 33 percent. Optotraffic’s principal focus is school zone safety. The National Center’s report emphasizes just how important our mission is.
Ohio’s legislature is currently considering the future of automatic traffic enforcement. Statistics released recently make the case for vigorous enforcement in a dramatic way. In 2012 every 7.8 hours a person was killed in a traffic accident on an Ohio road. Every five minutes someone is injured. That is very discouraging, but there are some extraordinarily positive statics as well. When automated traffic enforcement is deployed, accidents decline precipitously. Crash reductions ranged from 39 to 74 percent. Optotraffic is proud to work with local Ohio communities to reduce fatality and injuries. We look forward to working to make sure that the state has best practices in place for the future of automated speed enforcement. The proof is in the numbers.
October is National Walk to School Month and approximately 4,000 schools will be participating in the program this year. Walk to School day began in 1997 with one school, but now has spread to more than 40 countries. It has the support of the U.S. Department of Transportation and many state and local governments around the country. The program goals are to promote health, safety and community life and is coordinated by the National Center for Safe Routes to School. Optotraffic’s principal focus is creating safer school zones through effective enforcement. For that reason we’re happy to recognize and celebrate this important event
Every day we work closely with our partners in law enforcement and sometimes it goes beyond enforcing the law. Optotraffic is proud to once again support the Maryland Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Association fundraising effort for Special Olympics Maryland and Maryland Concerns of Police survivors. These two organizations are the “charity of choice” for the association. Optotraffic was particularly pleased to join the Chiefs and Sheriffs at this year’s annual meeting. It’s always good to see old friends.
Optotraffic is committed to making the routes to and from schools safer and speed cameras are a proven technology for accomplishing that goal. We were particularly impressed therefore to see the steps that Seattle has taken beyond deploying cameras. The Seattle government recently announced that expected revenue from speed-enforcement cameras will be spent on creating even safer passages for children walking to more than 20 schools. Projects include sidewalks, amber warning lights and curb bulbs to narrow the distance across a roadway and possibly speed humps to slow vehicles. That’s great thinking.
This is going to be a busy month for Optotraffic staff. Meeting with local and law enforcement officials is an important part of our mandate. We will be attending and supporting—as we have for several years—the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association annual meeting. We’ll also be going to Missouri to meet local leaders at the Missouri Municipal League meeting. We’ll be introducing the new Silver Hawk technology, but, more important, we’ll be listening to concerns and suggestions about how we can aid their public safety efforts.
New York City will soon deploy a demonstration speed camera program. That’s good news for the city, but we were particularly impressed by the vote in the State Legislature in favor of the program. The Senate voted 56 to 7 for approval and the State Assembly voted 120 to 20. Also interesting was the strong support for the measure by the local media. Cameras will be deployed near schools and citations will be issued for violators going more than 10 miles over the speed limit. The fine will be $50 per violation. Big step for the Big Apple.