SALISBURY — Speeders in Salisbury will find it harder to avoid tickets now that the city is moving ahead with plans to install traffic cameras in school zones.
“It allows us to use technology to multiply what we are able to do,” said Salisbury Chief of Police Barbara Duncan of the proposed camera network. Duncan came in front of the Salisbury City Council Monday to explain the benefits of the system.
The cameras would be set up to record any vehicles which exceed the speed limit going through school zones and would operate exactly like the cameras placed at numerous intersections throughout Maryland.
Only vehicles traveling at least 12 miles per hour over the posted limit would be photographed by the cameras, which could operate between six a.m. until eight a.m. Monday through Friday. While both a vehicle mountable system and a “box” style system were discussed, Duncan pointed out that either would be mobile enough to transfer if needed.
“I’m supportive of it,” said Council Vice President Gary Comegys.
He made sure to note that the council shouldn’t expect to generate long-term revenue from the project, guessing that once people got into the habit of slowing down from fear of cameras, ticket fees would dry-up. However, Comegys argued that was a good thing, and that the cost to the city would be more than made up by the level of safety the traffic cameras would bring to school zones.
Duncan cautioned the assembly that the process would have to be handled delicately so people could get used to the idea.
“You have to educate the population and garner community support,” she stated, pointing out that some other communities that had installed traffic cameras in school zones had rushed the effort and met with resistance.
In an attempt to avoid that, Duncan stressed the council’s responsibility to inform the public. Notice of the locations of the devices will therefore be published.
Councilwoman Eugenie Shields agreed and suggested that, in addition to any other methods the council employed, that inserts with the relevant information be made available to churches, which could place them inside of community bulletins. Additionally, any violations caught by the cameras within 30 days of when the first device is installed will be issued only as warnings.
Duncan expressed the hope that the system would help “change driver behavior” permanently, conditioning drivers to be more aware of their speed in special areas like around schools.
The council agreed unanimously to move the item to their regular meeting Monday, with the four councilmembers in attendance already displaying support for the initiative.