Bill Seeks to Make Sure Maryland Red-Light Cameras Are Fair

Law would make sure yellow lights last long enough

A Maryland delegate from Montgomery County drafted legislation to make sure counties and cities issuing red-light camera tickets are following the rules.

Montgomery and Prince George’s counties each have about 50 of the cameras, and violations cost $75. Montgomery County made more than $2 million on the tickets last year.

"My basic view is, whether you like these red-light cameras or not, and I know people have strong opinions about them, they should be following the rules," said Del. Marc Korman, D-Montgomery County.

He drafted a bill after hearing concerns yellow lights may be too short at some intersections.

"We put a bill in basically requiring that if a ticket was going to issue from one of these traffic lights, one of these traffic cameras, then it had to meet the state standard for a yellow light," he said.

The timing of yellow lights differs by intersection. Per state law, the minimum length must be calculated using a formula taking into account the speed limit, the slope and other factors. But the yellow light should never be shorter than 3.5 seconds.

"The safety is the biggest reason,” Korman said. “We want people to get through these lights in a safe manner."

Prince George's County said it goes above and beyond state regulations.

"Our minimums are set at 4 seconds, and we added a little safety buffer in there because we, you know, just really wanted to make sure that our citizens, our motorists, were safe," said Paulette Jones of the Prince George’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation.

Korman's bill passed unanimously in the House and is now making its way through the Senate. If approved, the law would give drivers the right to challenge red-light tickets if they can prove the yellow light was too short.

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