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Baltimore's speed trap cameras are wrong 10 percent of the time

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SF traffic camera privacy speed stock 1024
SF traffic camera privacy speed stock 1024

Baltimore resident Daniel Doty was recently booked by a speeding camera for going 38mph in a 25mph zone. Doty might not have fought the ticket, but his car was standing still at the time he received it.

The Baltimore Sun obtained data from a secret audit conducted by the city that revealed that Doty's is likely one of thousands issued erroneous speeding tickets by the city's cameras. The audit, which was conducted by consultant group URS Corp, concluded that the error rate was more than 10 percent for the city's speed cameras, costing residents $2.8 million in tickets. One camera URS audited turned out more errors than correct citations.

One camera URS audited turned out more errors than correct citations

The results of the audit were kept secret by the city, which had previously claimed that camera error rates were as low as one-quarter of a percent. The irony of the situation is that Maryland has historically been the backdrop for a lot of speed camera controversy. The state was an early pioneer for automated ticketing systems in the US, which were billed as a simple, automatic, and reliable revenue streams for states. Baltimore's 83 speed cameras have since been taken offline and the $2.8 million in tickets has been refunded, but this week's audit results could signal a larger problem with the system as a whole.

Brekford Corp, the company that replaced Xerox as the city's speed-camera provider in 2013, faced similar reliability issues and had its contract terminated by the city of Baltimore just three months after earning its business. It's unclear how widespread these kinds of reliability issues are, but as speed cameras have grown in popularity globally, the news could give rise to audits elsewhere.