Olney speed cameras are top revenue generators in county -- Gazette.Net



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Speed cameras in Olney generated 206 tickets a day on average in 2013 for a total of $3 million in fines, up from $2.6 million last year, according to recently released data.

The 2013 data from the county police’s Automated Traffic Enforcement Unit reflected the number of Olney speed camera tickets are up 11 percent over last year, although it shows the number of times vehicles have passed by the cameras in Olney is substantially lower.

The cost of a speed camera ticket is $40.

The two cameras east of Olney going to Sandy Spring, near Sherwood Elementary, are drawing fewer tickets than last year, down about 26 percent, according to the police.

The northbound Georgia Avenue camera approaching Brookeville is down 19 percent.

The northbound Georgia Avenue camera approaching Sandy Spring Bank is down 16 percent, but the number of vehicles passing by the camera also is down.

The camera on westbound Md. 108 at St. John’s Episcopal School is up 40 percent in number of tickets.

The eastbound camera on Md. 108 near the post office is up 21 percent.

The newest cameras on Md. 108 near St. Peter’s Catholic Church, while only in operation for a few months, have generated 7,869 tickets. On an annual basis in 2014 those cameras are expected to rival the other high-volume cameras.

The Greater Olney Civic Association’s Transportation Committee requested the speed camera data from the county police’s Automated Traffic Enforcement Unit, and discussed the results at a Feb. 11 meeting.

In 2012, seven of Olney’s speed cameras generated 18 percent of Montgomery County’s total speed camera revenue, according to data provided by the county. Based on the county’s website and 2010 U.S. Census data, Olney has 3.5 percent of the county’s population.

An average 177 speeding tickets per day were issued in 2012 as a result of those seven speed cameras in Olney, according to the county’s data.

Based on the police data, the association’s transportation committee determined that in 2012, there were 64,592 speed camera tickets combined from seven Olney locations, totaling $2,583,680. These cameras resulted in an average of $7,078 each camera per day in speed camera fines, according to the police data. County cameras imposed an average of $169,947 in fines in 2012, but the seven Olney cameras imposed $369,097 in fines per camera per year, more than double the rate of the rest of the county cameras.

The seven speed cameras in 2012 were: northbound 17700 Georgia Ave.; northbound 19600 Georgia Ave.; westbound 1300 Olney-Sandy Spring Road; eastbound 1500 Olney-Sandy Spring Road; eastbound 3400 Olney-Laytonsville Road; westbound 3400 Olney-Laytonsville Road and westbound 3500 Olney-Laytonsville Road.

The committee requested ZIP code data to see where the ticketed vehicles are registered, but the police department says that data does not exist. The committee believes that many of the tickets are issued to people living outside the Olney area, as local residents are aware of the camera locations. Commuters use Md. 97 and Md. 108, also called Olney-Laytonsville Road in Olney and Olney-Sandy Spring Road, but the camera locations are listed on the county website and are well marked.

Don McNickle, the county’s Safe Speed program manager of the Automated Traffic Enforcement Unit, attended the Feb. 11 Greater Olney Community Association meeting, along with Montgomery County Police Capt. Thomas Didone.

Despite the statistics presented by the association, McNickle said the prevalence of cameras in Olney is no different than other communities, including Germantown, Damascus, Darnestown and Silver Spring.

“I live in Olney, and people tend to drive fast in Olney,” McNickle said.

He attributed the high number of violations to the fact that Olney is a major east-west corridor for the county, drawing a lot of people traveling through, perhaps to get onto the Intercounty Connector.

He said that some cameras — such as the one near Sandy Spring Bank, which has been there since 2007, are prolific.

“The cameras near St. Peter’s have produced a remarkable amount of violations, more than I anticipated,” he said.

Didone said that speed is the number one cause of crashes in the county, and he believes the cameras are effective in reducing speed.

McNickle said the Automated Traffic Enforcement Unit is inundated by requests from residents to install speed cameras, including at several more Olney locations including Old Baltimore Road, Wickham Road and Hillcroft Drive. Suggested locations will be analyzed in the spring.



thogan@gazette.net