Speed cameras help keep school zones safe


Dulaney High School had speed cameras installed in June of 2010

By Michael Huber

By the end of June 2010, speed cameras were set up and fully operational at 15 different school zones in Baltimore County.  Members of the communities and schools are happy to see speeds decrease and advocate the use of the cameras.

Among the schools selected to erect these speed cameras were Dumbarton Middle School in Towson and Dulaney High School in Timonium.  These two schools were selected after meeting the criteria of the three main components: crash data, citizen complaints, and speed survey data.

After the speed cameras’ initial activation, there was a two-month period in July and August of 2010 where citations reached their peak at the two school zones.  According to the Baltimore County Police Department’s Speed Camera Report, which was published in January 2011, there was a dramatic decrease from the spike of the August citations to the number of citations dealt in October of 2010.

In the Dumbarton school zone on Stevenson Lane, there was a 63 percent decrease in the number of citations from 416 in August to 150 in October.  In the Dulaney school zone on Padonia Road, there was a 71 percent decrease in citations from 294 to 85 in the same time frame.  This evidence provides the police department and the schools the proof they were looking for when aiming to reduce the speed of traffic around their school zones.

Dulaney High School’s Student Resource Officer, Jennifer Berg, a Baltimore County Police Officer, is pleased with the camera’s effectiveness.

“This has always been a hot spot for speeders, even before the cameras were put in place, radar was frequently taken on this stretch of Padonia Road,” said Berg, “The cameras took the burden off of the police department, which allows us to patrol other areas, while knowing that offenders will still be caught by the cameras.”

James Knox, 34, who lives directly across from Dulaney High on Padonia Road, seconds the need for the speed cameras.

“I don’t know if it is just the hill here where the school is located, but I feel much better knowing that people are traveling at a reasonable speed when they pass my house,” said Knox, “My wife was a major advocate for the cameras and with my young daughters in the house and in the yard, I just feel much safer.”

People in close proximity to the school zones, generally favor the use of speed cameras. Residents who are opposed to the idea of speed cameras often do not live near the affected areas.  Like Robert Delaney for example, who is a resident of Baltimore City.  Delaney is an active member of the StopBigBrotherMd.org website.

Delaney and other members of StopBigBrotherMD.org, blog recent developments about speed cameras and red-light cameras, creating a grassroots forum for those who oppose the idea of traffic cameras.

“Obviously I understand the importance of slowing traffic around school zones, it’s not as if I’m opposed to keeping students and their schools safe,” said Delaney, “I am opposed to the idea that we need technology to monitor our citizens, we are starting to infringe on our own privacy rights, mainly I feel we are heading in a frightening direction.“

Dumbarton Middle School and Rodgers Forge Elementary are located next to each other in Towson, bordered by Dumbarton Road in the front and Stevenson Lane in the rear of the schools.   Due to the proximity of both schools, the camera on Stevenson Lane was seen as a no-brainer to protect the students who live in the nearby community of Rodgers Forge.

Diane Hummel, a seventh grade math teacher at Dumbarton and Baltimore County resident, saw the speed camera as a necessity at her location and advocated the use of the cameras at schools which lie on high traffic roadways.

“The only question I have, is why doesn’t every school zone have one?” said Hummel,  “Yes we have crossing guards to keep the kids safe before and after school, but what about on weekends, when there are kids playing or sports teams at the schools?  Crossing guards are only there for a limited amount of time.”

The speed camera on Dunman Way in the Dundalk Middle School zone was the only location to experience an increase in the number of citations from October 2010 to November 2010, increasing from 75 to 140 citations.

Lt. Robert McCullough of the Baltimore County Police Department is in charge of all school zone speed camera operations.  He views his program as a huge success and a great response to the public outcry for safer school zones and slower speeds.

“Over the past year and a half we have set a goal and in all 15 locations we have achieved success in limiting the number of speeders around these school zones,” said McCullough.   The residents in these areas asked for our help and I am very happy to say that we provided them the desired results.”


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