Rockville Red Light Tickets Double With New Intersection Technology

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Cars drive past a red light camera sign. (Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Cars drive past a red light camera sign. (Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) – The way the city of Rockville doubled the number of red-light camera tickets it issued from 2011 to 2012 may not be in conformity with Federal Highway Administration standards, AAA Mid-Atlantic says.

In 2011, 8,638 red-light tickets were doled out to drivers in Rockville. Last year, that number jumped to 17,794.

“Have drivers in Rockville suddenly decided en masse to stop obeying red lights?,” AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs John B. Townsend II asked. “Not at all. It all only takes a mere equipment change and vendor change, and voilà, the city adds nearly 10,000 more red light runners than it had the previous year, and a veritable bank vault of new ticket revenue for city coffers.”

Starting in August 2012, Rockville installed a new generation of red-light cameras that activate when motorists approach an intersection at certain speeds. The cameras can also detect motorists making rolling right turns at intersections without coming to a complete stop.

According to an AAA analysis of Rockville’s practices, more drivers are being charged $75 per ticket because not coming to a complete stop before the white line at photo-enforced intersections, even if they didn’t continue through the intersection illegally.

Though that is in line with the city’s law, the Federal Highway Administration found in 2009 that “the use of red-light camera stop lines or ‘violation lines’ does not comply with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which sets the nationwide standards for traffic control devices ‘on all public streets, highways, bikeways, and private roads open to public traffic,’” AAA says.

Rockville’s Photo Enforcement Supervisor, Thitipan Durasavin, cites Maryland Law TA 21-202(h) to justify the city’s red light ticketing practices.

“A vehicle facing a steady red signal must come to a complete stop at the near side of the intersection at the stop line or, if there is no stop line, prior to the crosswalk and before entering the intersection, and remain stopped as long as the signal is red,” the law states.

Meanwhile, motorists already in the intersection when the signal changes to red, or is yellow, are not considered red light violators under state law.

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