Maryland: Town Residents Vote To Ban Speed Cameras

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
maryland town residents vote to ban speed cameras

Sykesville, Maryland yesterday became the tenth jurisdiction to reject the use of photo enforcement by referendum. The town was to be the first in Carroll County to operate automated ticketing machines after leaders approved an ordinance designating three speed camera zones on February 22. These plans fell through after a group of residents collected more than enough signatures within the thirty-day deadline to put an ordinance repeal on the ballot. Sixty-one percent of Sykesville voters insisted on repealing the use of speed cameras.

The results are directly contrary to polling data released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In a 2008 report on the nearby Montgomery County speed camera program, the insurance company-backed group claimed sixty-two percent of residents supported the use of automated ticketing machines. The institute has a significant financial interest in the issue as states like Arizona, California and Illinois apply license points to certain types of photo tickets. A similar incentive drove town officials to spend taxpayer money in an attempt to convince voters to keep the cameras.

“We have received a number of emails and phone calls from residents who have expressed concern about outside special interest groups that have knocked on your door gathering signatures on a petition to oppose the adopted ordinance,” Mayor Michael P. Miller wrote in a taxpayer-funded letter to all residents before the vote. “Some of you have indicated that they were spreading misinformation about several issues including the town’s rationale and intent for adopting the ordinance to allow photo enforcement.”

The petitions, in fact, were circulated by a group of Sykesville residents led by Chris Martin. Similar citizen-led efforts have succeeded in every test at the ballot box. Last year, eighty-six percent of Sulphur, Louisiana rejected speed cameras; 72 percent said no in Chillicothe, Ohio; Heath, Ohio and College Station, Texas also rejected cameras. In 2008, residents in Cincinnati, Ohio rejected red light cameras. Seventy-six percent of Steubenville, Ohio voters rejected photo radar in 2006. In the mid-1990s, speed cameras lost by a two-to-one margin in Peoria, Arizona and Batavia, Illinois. In 1997, voters in Anchorage, Alaska banned cameras even after the local authorities had removed them. In 2003, 64 percent of voters in Arlington, Texas voted down “traffic management cameras” that opponents at the time said could be converted into ticketing cameras.


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  • Rick Rick on May 05, 2010

    Glad to see the record still stands. The idea that photo enforcement can't stand up to a ballot initiative will hopefully act as a deterrent to other municipalities considering it. In this case, the town's mayor outright lied to his constituents, and 61% still voted against it.

    • Moedaman Moedaman on May 05, 2010

      Using city funds to lie to the citizens should be paid back with a recall!

  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on May 05, 2010

    Welcome to the only town in the country dumb enough to buy not one, but two Dodge Intrepid police interceptors.

  • Lou_BC My kids drove around in a 2 wheel drive Chevy Colorado crew cab I bought off a neighbour when they were moving to Alberta. We kept it 4 years but sold it recently due to various engine codes popping up and the engine sounding more tired. It was one of the inline 5's known to have soft valve seats. All I had to repair was new front brakes and rotors, a wheel bearing and a battery. Both kids wrecked a tire clipping a curb. My oldest backed into it with his pickup which required a grill and headlight replacement. We bought a 2008 Corolla as a replacement for my 19 year old. It came with 4 new summers and a set of decent winter tires on rims. We'll run that until it looks like it will implode/explode. My oldest currently has 3 Cherokees (2 for parts), an F150 "Jelly bean", and a Mercury Grand Marquis. Insurance is very expensive for young drivers. That's why beaters can save some money. I haven't put them on my new truck's insurance since that would add around 90 per month in costs. I'll add my oldest to it temporarily so he can use it to get his "full" driver's license.
  • Arthur Dailey I grew up in an era when a teenager could work pumping gas or bussing tables and be able to purchase a vehicle for a couple of thousand dollars and drive it with 'uninsured' status.If a parent advised on the purchase of the vehicle, they would most often point us to a large, stripped/base version, domestic sedan with the smallest possible engine.These cars generally had terrible driving dynamics and little to no safety features, but were easy to work, had large bench seats/interiors and not enough power to get out of their own way.
  • MaintenanceCosts I'll guess: 3rd owner, never did even basic maintenance, major component failed, car got towed from the apartment complex parking lot, no one bought it at auction because the repair bill exceeded the value.The chrome pillar appliques support this hypothesis.
  • MaintenanceCosts I'm generally in the "I want them to have all the new safety stuff" camp, but new cars are both too fast and too isolating these days. They mask speed enough that a new driver can get way in over his head without really realizing he's even going that fast. This is especially a concern with my youngest, who wants to do everything he does faster. (He has zero fear tearing down hills at 25 mph on his little 20" wheel bike.) I'm hoping for something that is slow and communicates speed well, although I'm not quite sure there is any such thing in today's market.
  • KOKing I test-drove a used Equus Ultimate (the one with all the back seat doodads) that was a trade-in at a Ford dealer, and although it was VERY nice to be in as a Lexus LS with Ultra Luxury, it was supposedly in a minor fender-bender that probably wasn't repaired correctly (like a pinched bus cable or something?), and random features didn't work at all.I think this car suffered the same problem in the US that the VW Phaeton did, and probably would've done better if it was badged a Genesis from the get-go.