Those Miraculous Accident Figures in Chevy Chase, MD

May 25, 2009

Chevy Chase VillageChevy Chase Village has claimed incredible safety results from their cameras. And I mean literally incredible. CCV officials told the Gazette that “Collisions in the village are down 70 to 80 percent” [source]. They have repeated similar claims to the press many times. “Where we used to average 12 to 14 collisions a month on Connecticut Avenue, we are now averaging about 3 or 4”[source].

The problem is that the Village’s own police reports, which report the number of accidents they responded to, do not uphold these claims. StopBigBrotherMD examined the monthly police reports posted to Chevy Chase Village’s website for a period of time before the speed cameras were introduced to the latest 12 month period of time
Before Cameras
Month : #Accidents Reported
Mar2006 : 10
Apr
2006 : 14
May
2006 : 9
Jun
2006 : 12
Jul
2006 : 14
Aug
2006 : 12
Sep
2006 : 11
Oct
2006 : 18
Nov
2006 : 10
Dec
2006 : 14
Jan
2007 : 3
Average : 11.545


After Cameras
Month : #Accidents Reported
May
2008 : 16
Jun
2008 : 7
Jul
2008 : 10
Aug
2008 : 10
Sep
2008 : 10
Oct
2008 : 10
Nov
2008 : 17
Dec
2008 : 16
Jan
2009 : 8
Feb
2009 : 8
Mar
2009 : 13
Apr
2009 : 17
Average
: 11.833

The average monthly number of accidents reported by Chevy Chase Village police for these periods of time were actually slightly greater now than before the cameras were introduced. Note that these numbers were for all of Chevy Chase Village, including Connecticut Ave. Accident rates naturally fluctuate and are subject to seasonal variations, so it may have been possible to find a short period of time supporting the safety claims of CCV officials (comparing the worst single month before the cameras to the best single month after). However the numbers from their police reports for any sustained period of time do not support anything remotely close to their claim that the section of Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase Village was seeing an average 14 accidents per month prior to using speed cameras and a 70-80% drop in accidents after they were installed.

Traffic fatalities were reportedly down 9% NATIONWIDE in 2008, attributed to the price of gas, with at least 42 states seeing marked reductions in traffic fatalities[source]. Most of those states do NOT use speed cameras. For the first half of 2008 traffic fatalities per vehicle mile reached the lowest level ever recorded up to that date.

Under Maryland’s newly passed Senate Bill 277, the authorization of speed cameras, local governments which use speed cameras will need to report back to the general assembly in 2012 about the success or failure of their programs. SB277 includes the use of speed cameras in workzones on “expressways” with “speed limits of 45mph or greater” which can be used “regardless of whether workers are present” (not that anyone would ever set up workzone cameras without workers). One study sanctioned by the UK government from 2001-2003 regarding the effectiveness of workzone speed cameras showed “No significant difference was observed in the PIA(personal injury accident) rate for sites with and without speed cameras[source]” However since SB277 sets no standard for measuring success, Maryland’s programs need not need to worry about failure and can all be “successful” since the agencies which control access to the data can choose any standard and present only that data that shows success. It also does not require localities to consider other alternatives for speed control, or demonstrate that speed cameras were actually the best solution.

A petition drive is currently underway to collect 53,000 signatures and force SB277 to a referendum, giving the people or Maryland the opportunity to accept or reject this speed camera expansion by a popular vote. However time is very short to gather the needed signatures, so please go and sign the petition right now.

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Republican Party Backs MD Speed Camera Referendum

May 4, 2009

Maryland GOPOne of the more pleasant aspects of the speed camera debate is that you’ll find as much opposition to scameras from liberals as you will from conservatives. The issue usually brings people together across traditional party divides.

In Maryland, however, Governor  Martin O’Malley (D) rammed the freeway speed camera bill through the General Assembly and created a significant partisan backlash. Here’s the Maryland Republican Party press release from today:

MDGOP Endorses Speed Camera Petition Drive

Unanimous Vote by Party’s Executive Committee

ANNAPOLIS—Last weekend, the Maryland Republican Party’s Executive Committee unanimously endorsed petitioning SB 277, the recently passed Speed Camera legislation to referendum.

“The Maryland Republican Party is proud to support Maryland for Responsible Enforcement’s Speed Camera Ballot Initiative,” said MDGOP Chairman Jim Pelura.  “This is another tax being placed on the citizens of Maryland and there are mixed reviews as to whether this promotes safety on the highways.”

“Perhaps worst of all, if you receive a ticket from one of these cameras there is no ability to face your accuser in court.  It’s your word against a machine, which is how Martin O’Malley and the Democrats in Annapolis want it,” Pelura continued.  “They want to find every avenue they can to wring the money out of hard-working taxpayers.  The Maryland Republican Party says ‘enough’ and we stand strongly behind placing this bill on the ballot in 2010 for the people to decide.”

We hope that having party support will bring the additional resources that will be needed to get the required signatures by the deadline. We also hope the Democratic Party realizes the need to get on board the referendum effort and stand on the side of the public, not on the side of a greedy politician. Learn more about how you can help gather signatures here.