Charles County rakes in $1.4 million in 2018 from Speed Cameras

News Release, AAA

WASHINGTON, D. C. (Tuesday, May 14, 2019) ––Speed camera programs across Maryland raked in nearly $64 million in automated traffic enforcement fine revenue during Fiscal Year 2018. Since FY 2014, 6.3 million duly chastised speedy motorists in Maryland have forked over $288.5 million in speed camera fines statewide. During the last budget cycle, Montgomery County, Baltimore City, Prince George’s County, Baltimore County, Charles County, and Howard County emerged as members of the elite “Million Dollar Club,” collectively deriving tens of millions of dollars in fines from hare-footed drivers.

Individually, those bailiwicks coffered from as little as $1.1 million to as much as $16 million in “road-rule camera” revenue from drivers ticketed for traveling faster than the law allows during FY 2018. Not only are the odds of hasty drivers getting speed camera tickets greater in the state’s four largest jurisdictions, those areas also accounted for 59.3 percent of all the state’s speed camera revenue windfall, or $38,101,275, during FY18. There are other million dollar-plus “money-makers” across the state, such as College Park and Gaithersburg, to name a few.

Given the fact they are countywide automated traffic enforcement (ATE) programs, or citywide, in the case of Baltimore, one of the “largest independent cities in the nation,” it is unsurprising they are members of the exclusive club. Several speed camera programs operated by localities, police forces, and municipal police departments in Maryland also alchemized speed camera tickets into more than a million dollars in revenue during the budget cycle. Smaller localities with gilded speed camera programs on the roadside include College Park, Gaithersburg, Hagerstown, Laurel, Rockville, Salisbury, and Takoma Park. All told, 45 jurisdictions operated speed monitoring systems in Maryland during FY 2018 targeting drivers exhibiting a reckless disregard for speed limits and traffic safety.

“Speedy violators must pay a $40 fine for each infraction caught on speed camera and in many cases it is enough to modify bad driving habits or to compel some motorists to drive with a halo around their heads when they are within range of a speed camera,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “Hit directly in the ‘hip-pocket nerve,’ ticketed motorists apparently paid their tickets in a timely manner. However, some ticketed motorists refuse to pay their citations. Some jurisdictions in the state are deploying collection agencies to dun millions of dollars in delinquent and overdue fines dating back for years. Nearly a third of speed camera tickets are issued to motorists caught speeding one mile per hour over the threshold speed that triggers the flash of the speed camera, research shows.”

By the numbers, at least 1,593,726 motorists were captured speeding on a juggernaut of speed cameras across Maryland during FY 2018. They were summarily ticketed and fined for going at least 12 miles per hour (mph) over the posted speed limits in school zones, around the campus of the University of Maryland, and, in some cases, on certain neighborhood roads in Montgomery County. Instead of requesting a court date to contest the speeding offense, or perhaps it is a matter of prudently avoiding the risk of incurring vehicle flags  for failure to resolve a speed camera violation, most errant motorists dutifully paid their fines in full.

In contrast, road-rule cameras in nearly four dozen Maryland jurisdictions and localities cited around 1.5 million motorists with a devil-may-care “need for speed” during fiscal 2017, generating $62.2 million in speed monitoring system fine revenue. In the cosmic scheme of things, it means the number of speed camera tickets and the sum of speed camera revenue remained essentially on par or unchanged from the two previous budget years in Maryland, including both FY 2016 and FY 2015, notes AAA Mid-Atlantic. 

For perspective, speed cameras captured video and still photographs of 1,555,946 careless motorists traveling at incriminating speeds during Fiscal Year 2017, compared to 1,556,441 speed limit scofflaws who triggered speed cameras in FY 2016, and 1,599,574 heedless violators in FY 2015. That is according to AAA Mid-Atlantic’s review of Speed Monitoring Systems (SMS) data from the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Maryland’s Most Lucrative Speed Camera Systems in FY 2018

JurisdictionSpeed Camera Revenue
Montgomery County$15,954,868
City of Baltimore$9.6 million
Prince George’s Co.$6,894,036
Baltimore County$5,651,371
College Park$2,724,254
Gaithersburg$2,174,823
Rockville$1,811,724
Laurel$1,427,991
Charles County$1,407,500
Salisbury$1,325,771
Takoma Park$1,244,994
Howard County$1,190,187

  Sources: Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission, Comptroller of Maryland, Department of Legislative Services, Mo Co Operating Budget

If revenue is one of the salient yardsticks, along with other data-driven benchmarks and traffic safety calipers, for measuring the success of automated traffic enforcement, then Maryland’s million-dollar-plus speed camera programs include those operating in Montgomery County, Baltimore City, Prince George’s County, Baltimore County, Charles County, College Park, Gaithersburg, Hagerstown, Howard County, Laurel, Rockville, Salisbury, and Takoma Park, the 2018 Speed Monitoring System Use Report to the State of Maryland reveals. 

Millions here. Millions there. Over the course of the past five fiscal years, approximately 6,305,687 fast and loose motorists in Maryland were ticketed by speed cameras. In the period from Fiscal Year 2014 to Fiscal Year 2018, local speed monitoring systems across Maryland generated $288,559,130 in fine revenue. Of that dollar amount, the speed cameras generated $222,810,069 in fine revenue from FY 2014 to FY 2017, according to data from the Maryland Comptroller’s Office and the Maryland Department of Legislative Services. 

During FY 2018, “six counties and Baltimore City and 38 other jurisdictions or localities” in Maryland operated speed camera programs. In addition, the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) operates speed cameras in work zones on a statewide basis. Maryland jurisdictions are required to file annual Speed Monitoring Systems reports under the provisions of Maryland Transportation Article §21-809(k).  

Montgomery County continues to lead the state of Maryland both in the number of speed camera tickets and amount of speed camera ticket revenue. The countywide Safe Speed automated enforcement program generated $15,954,868 in speed camera citation revenue, according to Montgomery County’s Operating Budget documents. This sums equates to 398,871 paid speed camera citations.

In contrast, Montgomery County issued 509,542 speed camera citations during FY 2017. Montgomery County’s speed cameras ticketed 529,993 motorists caught speeding flagrante d?lict? in FY 2016, and the system handed down citations to 507,531 speeding motorists during FY 2015. Unlike in school zones, speed cameras operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week on residential roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or less in Montgomery County.

Baltimore City’s erstwhile moribund and once mothballed speed camera program “generated about $9.6 million in total revenue” during Fiscal Year 2018,  according to a Fiscal and Policy Note by the Maryland Department of Legislative Services. That is the nominal value of around 240,000 speed camera tickets paid into the city’s coffers. Citing data from the Maryland Comptroller’s Office, the department reported Baltimore’s citywide speed camera program’s “implementation costs totaled more than $2.2 million. [Meanwhile] Net revenue retained for public safety purposes totaled $7.4 million.”

After what is termed “a four-year hiatus,” Baltimore resumed its citywide speed camera program in July 2017. The former program, which raked in $140 million for the city’s coffers since its inception 1999, was shuttered in April 2013, as a result of a probe of its systemic irregularities by The Baltimore Sun.

The countywide speed monitoring system in Prince George’s County generated $54,709,704 in ticket revenue during the period from FY 2013 to FY 2018. However, the County’s speed camera fine revenue dropped from a height of $13,112,169 during Fiscal 2013 to a nadir of $6,894,036 in fine revenue in FY 2018. The latter is the face value of 275,761 paid speed camera tickets. During FY 2018, the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGCPD) deployed an arsenal of 72 speed cameras in school zones across the county.  

Remarkably, the countywide school zone speed camera program generated $47,815,668 in ticket revenue in the period from Fiscal 2013 to Fiscal 2017, according to the Maryland State Comptroller’s Office.

The countywide speed monitoring system in Prince George’s County issued 227,579 citations to irresponsible motorists traveling 12 mph over posted speed limits in school zones on county roads during FY 2017. That compares to 263,302 incautious motorists during FY 2016, and 260,911 speedy drivers in FY 2015.

In Maryland, speed camera citations are issued to motorists exceeding the posted speed limit in school zones and work zones (Maryland Safe Zones) by 12 mph or greater. In accordance with Maryland law, images are only captured and used for the purpose of issuing a citation. Each speed camera spins out “high-resolution images, and high-definition video” of violations incurred by disregardful motorists barreling through school zones “like a bat out of hell.” School zone speed cameras operate “only Monday through Friday between 6:00 A.M. and 8:00 P.M.” Citations are issued and mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle.

From A to almost Z, at least 20 municipal police departments in Prince George’s County and Montgomery County operate speed camera programs, including Berwyn Heights, Bowie, Capital Heights, Cheverly, Chevy Chase Village, College Park, District Heights, Forest Heights, Gaithersburg, Glenarden, Greenbelt, Hyattsville, Landover Hills, Laurel, New Carrollton, Riverdale, Rockville, Seat Pleasant, and Takoma Park. As you learned in your junior high math class, “The average rate of speed for a trip is the total distance traveled by the total time of the trip.” Another factor is the likelihood of getting a speed camera ticket.