Today’s postal mail brought an unpleasant surprise, my first speed-camera ticket. According to Maryland State Police automata, I was going 68 mph in a 55 mph work zone at 9:42 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at I-70 and South Street in Frederick County, Md.
I was driving three students to the Baltimore airport to catch a plane to a conference. I guess being busted by a speed camera beats being pulled to the roadside by a police officer, with the attendant embarrassment and delay.
Instead, the shame has followed me to my house, where it’s aggravated by the fact that I was driving Sydney’s car at the time. No matter who is driving, the automata write tickets to the car’s owner, so the ticket arrived addressed to Sydney. Imagine her delight when she opened the envelope. Imagine her warm words.
Since May 2011, cameras at that location have written 3,414 citations, an average of 341 a month. Assuming $40 a pop, and assuming further that everyone cited actually paid, that’s $136,560 in total revenue, or $13,656 a month.
That’s peanuts compared to the lucre generated by the I-95 cameras in Baltimore County, between I-695 and I-895. They’ve generated 384,062 citations since November 2009, or $15.4 million. See for yourself.
According to Maryland SafeZones Facts, these cameras are mounted on white sport utility vehicles marked with the SafeZones logo, and by the time I passed them, I already had passed work-zone warning signs, plus an electronic sign displaying my speed.
So it’s a fair cop, as Monty Python used to say -- though I apparently could have sped past the cameras with impunity had I been going 1 mph slower.
I’m still disconcerted that my public movements are so much more easily tracked by the government than they used to be.