School zones around Annapolis could soon be adorned with new cameras to catch speeding drivers.
“Our goal is to improve safety around school zones," Mayor Josh Cohen said in a press release. “Annapolis has many walkable neighborhoods, but speeding complaints are common, particularly near routes that kids use regularly. These cameras will help deter speeding near schools and improve safety for our kids."
The city reached out to RedSpeed, a private company that studies traffic areas and installs speed cameras. RedSpeed will assess and identify potentially dangerous school zones around Annapolis over the next several weeks. The city plans to publish the results.
Annapolis won't know how many cameras are needed until after the study finishes, and city officials expect the cameras to start going up in early November.
RedSpeed will work on the application and permit process to place cameras on any county or state roads that are identified as potential school zones for enforcement. The company will also work with Annapolis Police to make sure that the areas of concern are consistent with city and state laws.
The council approved the use of speed cameras in school zones in November 2011. It cited a law passed by Maryland's General Assembly that allows municipalities to fine drivers $40 if cameras catch them going at least 12 miles over the limit.
“Preventing accidents in our school zones is our focus,” said Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop in the release. “Automated speed enforcement will enable us to redirect our resources and to patrol other areas while at the same time address school zones with the greatest risk of accidents.”
The cameras will only issue tickets for the specific times allowed by law, and there will be a 30-day grace period where warnings will be sent to drivers (instead of a $40 fine).
“This action was supported by the Public Safety Committee and later approved by the City Council,” said Public Safety Committee Chair and Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson in the release. “The committee worked closely with APD to educate the Council on the need for enforcement in and around our school zones.”
With more than 70,000 students about to head back to school, Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesman Bob Mosier said the two biggest safety issues he sees are people not stopping for buses and people speeding past area schools.
"We have children from 5 to 18 years old getting out of their parents' cars and off buses every day," Mosier said. "I wouldn't want to wade into the debate over speed cameras, but we support any initiative that is going to result in increased student safety."
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