BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Banning the bounty. A new law takes effect that closes the loophole on who profits from speed camera tickets.
Gigi Barnett explains drivers are backing the move.
If you speed down a 25-mile per hour school zone, cameras watching will take your photo and mail you a ticket. Each time that happens, speed camera companies get a cut.
“It seems like that was a conflict of interest. It seemed like a form of kickback,” said Baruti Kopano, driver.
It’s a practice that ends this weekend as a new law hits the books, banning camera vendors from getting a commission on every ticket. AAA Mid-Atlantic and other driver-support groups pushed for the changes among state lawmakers.
“The original intent of the law was never for a contractor to receive a portion of the citation. Many refer to that as a bounty system,” said Ragina Cooper Averella, AAA spokeswoman.
And that’s upset drivers from the city to the counties.
“I got two of them right out on Putty Hill and Old Harford Road,” said Dave Callahan, driver. “It’s either a cash cow or there’s a glitch in the cameras.”
Baltimore City’s speed camera program came under fire after drivers proved that they were clocked going faster than they really were. The city made thousands on those false tickets.
As a result, Baltimore temporarily turned off its cameras last spring. But now the new law also calls for each camera to be calibrated every year by an independent lab.
AAA says speed cameras are useful. They’re successful in work zones on the highway, causing a drop in tickets and an uptick in safety. But there will be no more payouts for camera makers.
“Over a period of time, if speed cameras are in an area, motorists should change their behavior, slow down, which should ultimately lead to increased safety for everyone involved,” Averella said.
Also under the new law, each county and city is now required to create an office that would investigate challenges to speed camera tickets. In the past, drivers who received them had to go to court, and that meant a day off from work.
The law also bans speed cameras in areas with limits less than 20 miles per hour.
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