Optotraffic Speed Cameras Cause Significant Driver Behavior Change in School Zones - October 25, 2011
Study in Maryland Shows Drop in Both Speeding and Crashes
Lanham, MD; October 25, 2011—An independent study in four Maryland suburban municipalities shows a consistent—sometimes dramatic—reduction in vehicle speed and accidents when speed cameras are used near schools. All four jurisdictions using Optotraffic systems showed safety improvement in school zones, including, in one case, a nearly 900 percent increase in drivers obeying the speed limit.
As required by the State of Maryland guidelines, jurisdictions using automated enforcement systems such as those provided by Optotraffic must commission reports on the effectiveness of the systems. The studies were conducted by an independent evaluation company, The Traffic Group® Inc., for the municipalities of Riverdale Park, Seat Pleasant, Forest Heights and Mount Rainier.
The Traffic Group collected speed and crash data in the four jurisdictions before installation of speed cameras. The systems were then deployed by Optotraffic, which uses lasers to calculate speed and cameras to capture images of vehicles and license plates of violators. The Traffic Group submitted its “Before” and “After” report to the Maryland State Highway Administration. More than 100,000 speed violations were tracked during the evaluation period.
The City of Seat Pleasant showed the most dramatic improvement. Optotraffic deployed its equipment near Seat Pleasant Elementary School. Before deployment only 7.6 percent of the drivers obeyed the 30 mile per hour speed limit on Eastbound Maryland Route 704. By the end of the study that number had risen to 75.6 percent—an 895 percent increase. More significantly, crashes in the school zone fell dramatically. In fiscal 2010 there were 25 property damage crashes and 20 crashes involving personal injury in the school zone. After installation of the cameras, there were only two property damage crashes and one personal injury accident.
Signs notifying drivers of the speed cameras were prominently posted in the school zones and the Optotraffic speed camera equipment was clearly visible. Nonetheless, driver behavior appears to adapt over time rather than immediately. According to The Traffic Group in its Riverdale Park report, “Generally, the number of violations decreased steadily each month of operations.”
Copies of the report summaries are available here.
Established in 1985, The Traffic Group®, Inc. is a veteran-owned traffic engineering and transportation planning specialty firm headquartered in Baltimore County, Maryland. The firm also has offices in Arkansas, New York, Texas, and Virginia as well as on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The company provides consultation on all aspects of projects dealing with the movement of vehicles and pedestrians, including traffic engineering and transportation planning studies, expert testimony, roadway and parking lot design, and data collection services.