When it comes to the speed cameras in College Park, AAA Mid-Atlantic said it’s about making money for the city and camera producer Optotraffic.
“They’re not being used primarily for safety,” said Lon Anderson, staff director of public and government relations of AAA Mid-Atlantic at a press conference held Wednesday.
But the city maintains that the main purpose for the cameras is to make the roads safer, and that they have succeeded in doing go.
“The purpose of the City’s Speed Enforcement program is to slow down drivers and improve public safety,” according to a statement released by College Park City Manager Joe Nagro.
According to city data, there were 3,412 drivers caught in College Park driving more than 12 miles per hour over the speed limit in the first week after the cameras were installed. In the 12th week, there were 591.
At Wednesday’s press event, AAA Mid-Atlantic and motorists challenged the accuracy of the cameras used, as well as the legality of the placement of at least one of the cameras.
State law allows speed cameras to be installed within the grounds of an institution of higher education or within a ½-mile radius of the grounds of a building or property used by the institute of higher education. The speed camera in question is located at 3300 Metzerott Road, near the University of Maryland’s Wilson H. Elkins Building.
The law also requires that “motor vehicle, pedestrian or bicycle traffic is substantially generated or influenced by the institute of higher education.”
This is not the case with the Elkins building, Anderson said, which serves as an administrative building and no classes take place there. He said that the fact there are no sidewalks at that location indicates that the area is not even meant for pedestrian use.
“Any pretext that we’re protecting students or whatever is bogus,” he said.
But the city argues that the lack of sidewalks, causing people to walk and bike in the shoulders of the road, is even more reason to install the camera there.
Two motorists also spoke at the press event, challenging the accuracy of the Optotraffic cameras. Richard LaDieu, who drives a truck for the University of Maryland, said he presented data collected by a car chip to prove a speed camera on Paint Branch Parkway incorrectly cited him for driving over the limit. He said the judge dismissed the citation.
Another motorist, Will Foreman, said drivers who work for his Eastover Auto Supply company in Oxon Hill, have received 60 citations generated by speed cameras. He superimposed photos captured by the speed cameras to argue that the vehicles in question could not have traveled as fast as the citations claim.
But The Diamondback reports that Mickey Shepherd, senior account manager at Optotraffic, said this is not an accurate method to check the camera’s accuracy, because the photographs don’t factor in the camera’s trigger delay.
AAA Mid-Atlantic said that Optotraffic receives 40 percent of the revenue from the speed cameras.
“Based on all the information we have, the Optotraffic cameras used in the city are accurate,” the city’s statement read. Prince George’s County Police Officers review the citations and verify the daily camera self-calibration, according to the city’s statement.
“What we are seeing is a nightmare unfold,” Anderson said.