Maryland Senate advances truck cams

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Friday, March 23, 2012

A bill halfway through the Maryland statehouse addresses the use of automated enforcement targeting trucks.

The Senate voted unanimously to advance a bill to employ enforcement cameras to help make sure trucks stay off restricted roadways near the Port of Baltimore. SB306 now moves to the House for further consideration.

The city of Baltimore now restricts trucks on various roadways from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Generally, the height of any vehicle and its load cannot exceed 13 feet and 6 inches on such routes as the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel and its approaches (Interstate 895). Any oversize vehicle and load together exceeding 14 feet and 6 inches tall is prohibited from entering the Interstate 95 Fort McHenry Tunnel.

Delegate Peter Hammen, D-Baltimore City, told lawmakers during recent discussion on the effort that trucks continue to use the road overnight. As a result, he said a police officer must be deployed to cite those trucks.

“It probably is not the best use of that officer’s time,” he testified.

The city recently completed a truck study that suggested using cameras to help determine where violation “hot spots” are located.

As a result, Hammen and Sen. Bill Ferguson, D-Baltimore City, advocate authorizing the city of Baltimore to use vehicle height monitoring systems on highways to snap photos of trucks in violation of the time restriction.

“It’s a very effective way of addressing this problem,” Hammen said.

First-time offenders would get off with warnings. Repeat offenders would face $250 fines. Subsequent offenses could result in fines of up to $500.

According to a fiscal note on the bill, the enforcement tool could result in 2,300 citations each year from six vehicle height monitoring systems. Revenue for the city could increase by more than $1 million annually.

The expense to outfit three locations with two cameras and related signs is estimated at $61,200.

The bill is scheduled for consideration in the House Environmental Matters Committee on Tuesday, March 27. House lawmakers already approved the House version. HB476 is in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Maryland, click here.

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