Speed Cameras Prove Effective in College Park
$564,270 worth of citations were mailed in roughly seven weeks of operation, according to report.
College Park’s speed cameras had cranked out 14,118 citations as of Jan. 5, according to a report prepared for the city by Optotraffic, the company that installed and operates the cameras.
At $40 a pop, that’s $564,270 worth of tickets mailed in the first seven and a half weeks that the cameras were fully operational.
The cameras, which were activated in mid-November, snap photos of vehicles traveling more than 12 miles over the posted speed limit and send a citation to the vehicle’s registered address.
A vast majority of the tickets appear to be going to drivers who live outside of College Park. Roughly 89 percent of the tickets were mailed to addresses outside the city’s two main ZIP codes, 20740 and 20742.
Optotraffic, a division of Lanham-based Sigma Space Corporation, keeps roughly 40 percent of the revenue from the cameras while College Park keeps the rest, as long as the city's tally doesn’t exceed 10 percent of its annual budget. According to The Gazette, the cameras would have to issue 54,000 tickets to exceed that number.
The report also touts speed reductions over the first seven weeks at two of the three camera locations. The median speed clocked by the camera on Metzerott Road near St. Andrews Place fell four mph while speeds captured on Rhode Island Avenue fell two mph.
District 1 Councilman Patrick Wojahn said the speed reductions show that the speed cameras are working as intended.
"We did this basically at no cost to the city,” Wojahn said. “It seems to me that the speed cameras are a very useful and efficient tool."
Tom Moran of Greenbelt is one motorist who’s none too happy about the cameras cropping up in the area. Moran says he got two tickets from the town of Brentwood’s camera on Rhode Island Avenue near the border with Mt. Ranier. Moran echoed a complaint voiced by some College Park residents, saying drivers don’t have enough time to changes in the speed limit before entering camera zones.
“They basically are trying to speed trap you there,” Moran said. “It’s just a moneymaker for the town. It’s a scam.”
While the initial stats in the Optotraffic report suggest that the cameras are having the desired effect of slowing traffic down, it’s unclear how often city officials will review the data to get a better idea of how the cameras are working.
Mario Bohorquez, the chief commercial officer at Optotraffic, said the company only provides reports at the city’s request, and that there’s no “formal system” or regular reporting schedule in place.
Wojahn said he doesn't see a problem with the speed camera data being kept by Optotraffic and provided to the city on an ad-hoc basis.
“They have easiest access to the information,” he said. “I think the city should continue to ask for [the reports] on a regular basis.”