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Police: Red light camera program

 In the early 1990s, Howard County police recognized that there was a problem in our community. Our citizens were being injured and sometimes killed in intersection crashes. We decided to utilize a problem-oriented policing approach to address the issue.

Our scan of crash data revealed several underlying crash causes. In partnership with traffic engineers and community members, we analyzed these crashes and the environment in which we operated. While working on long-term research, we responded with new strategies. Collectively, we assessed the impact of our efforts.

We ultimately decided to take the step of enforcing red light violations by using automated camera systems. We established a unique and successful public-private partnership to create an automated enforcement strategy.

We reached out to other police operations and now operate the only regional automated enforcement center, where 12 police agencies work together.

The bottom line is this: It is working. The number of crashes has fallen as the number of people running red lights has dropped.

 

Citation numbers beginning with "290": Click here to pay online  

Citation numbers beginning with "13": Click here to pay online 

 

 

History of the red light camera program  

  

Frequently asked questions

 

 Where are red light cameras located in Howard County?
Brokenland Parkway at Cradlerock Way
Brokenland Parkway at Snowden River Parkway
Brokenland Parkway at Stevens Forrest Road
Cedar Lane at Freetown Road
Cedar Lane at Hickory Ridge Road
Dobbin Road at Dobbin Center Way
Governor Warfield Parkway at Windstream Drive
Little Patuxent Parkway at Banneker Road
Little Patuxent Parkway at Brokenland Parkway
Little Patuxent Parkway at Columbia Road
Little Patuxent Parkway at Columbia Road (left turn lane)
Little Patuxent Parkway at Governor Warfield Parkway
Little Patuxent Parkway at Harpers Farm Road
Snowden River Parkway at Berger Road
Snowden River Parkway at McGaw Road 
Snowden River Parkway at Oakland Mills Road
Snowden River Parkway at Dried Earth Boulevard
U.S. 1 at Corridor Road/Howard Street
U.S. 40 at Ridge Road
U.S. 40 at St. Johns Lane
 Locations subject to change / Current as of November 2014  

 

How many red light cameras are currently in operation in Howard County?
As of November 2014, there are 21 red light cameras in use in the county. Some intersections have multiple cameras. There have been 44 camera sites constructed and placed in service in the county since 1998.  Some camera sites have subsequently been de-activated when red light violations and red light running collisions have decreased sufficiently.

 

How do red light cameras work?
Howard County police use LaserCraft digital automated red light enforcement technology. Above-ground lasers monitor an approaching vehicle’s position and speed as it nears the white stop line. One laser is used for each monitored lane. If the approaching vehicle exceeds a preset threshold speed, the camera system initiates a picture-taking sequence. A wide-angle color camera takes the first picture of the vehicle before the white stop line. A narrow-angle, high-resolution camera takes a second and third close-up license plate image. The wide-angle color camera takes a fourth and final image of the vehicle in the intersection. When capturing photographs, the cameras do not utilize a flash. In 2009, Howard County police upgraded the cameras to include video. Certified Howard County police civilian employees review the images and decide if the criterion to issue a citation has been met. 

 

How much has been collected in fines?
Since program’s inception in February 1998, we have issued approximately 337,474 citations. Our collection rate has been averaging approximately 93 percent. In 2010, the program cost approximately $1.3 million for the county to operate. Proceeds are deposited in the county’s general fund. 

 

 

Red Light Camera Program Citations & Fines 

Year 

Citations issued 

Fines collected 

1998

12,786

$946,146

1999

31,574

$2,234,584

2000

30,860

$2,175,531

2001

26,140

$1,831,425

2002

23,621

$1,675,210

2003

23,320

$1,663,885

2004

16,642

$1,186,197

2005

22,538

$1,608,317

2006

27,156

$1,941,453

2007

29,604

$2,120,127

2008

30,374

$2,163,823

2009

31,900

$2,205,385

2010

29,425

$1,944,030

2011 27,436 $1,942,387
2012 28,367 $1,943,654
2013 29,794 $2,016,167

 

 

How often are camera locations assessed?
Howard County police and the county Traffic Engineering department meet several times each year to assess what intersections throughout the county warrant the introduction of a red light camera. Before a camera is installed, traffic engineers have attempted to eliminate red light running collisions by altering signal timing or adjusting traffic flow in another manner. Adding a camera is the final solution after other engineering measures have been attempted.
 
What does a red light camera look like?

The camera and laser devices are contained in white metal boxes mounted on metal poles. Some intersections feature signs indicating that red light camera enforcement is in use, however, the signs do not appear at every site. Maryland law does not require the county to mark intersections where red light cameras are operated with signs.
 
Do red light cameras reduce collisions at intersections where they are used?

A 2008 study (the most recent available) by the county Traffic Engineering department showed an overall collision reduction of 29 percent. Right-angle collisions have been reduced by 55 percent. The same study also showed an overall reduction of rear-end collisions at sites where the cameras are used. 
 
Can the cameras be used to enforce other violations, such as not wearing a seat belt, texting while driving or speeding?

No. Maryland law prohibits the use of red light cameras for any other purpose other than enforcing red light camera violations.
 
If I come to a stop after the white line, will I be issued a citation?

Yes. If a vehicle crosses completely over the white stop line while facing a red signal, a violation has occurred. However, if the driver only partially crosses the stop line before coming to a stop, Howard County does not issue a citation.
 
If I am in the intersection when the light turns red, will I be issued a citation?

If your vehicle has crossed the white stop line and entered the intersection while the light is amber and then the light turns red while the vehicle is still in the intersection, a citation will not be issued.
 
Will I be issued a citation for not coming to a stop before making a right turn on red?

Howard County red light cameras do not monitor right turn lanes. However, if a police officer observes a vehicle failing to make a complete stop at a red light before making a right turn, the officer may issue a traffic citation.
 
Where is the citation sent? How long after a violation will the ticket be sent?

The citation is sent to the address of the vehicle’s registered owner that is listed with MVA. Citations are required by law to be mailed within 14 days of the violation. Howard County usually mails citations five to eight days after the violation has occurred.
 
What information will be displayed on the citation?

The citation will include three pictures showing the vehicle committing the violation and the vehicle’s tag number. It will include the exact date, time and location of the violation, a violation number, the amount due, the due date and instructions for paying the fine or requesting a court date. The vehicle’s speed, the road’s speed limit, the length of the amber light in seconds and how long the light had been red when the violation took place are included. It also includes a signature of the certified Howard County police civilian employee who reviewed the images and determined if the criteria to issue a citation had been met. Additionally, red light citations now include a link to a web site where you can view a video of the violation.
 
Who is responsible to pay the ticket: the owner of the vehicle or the person who was driving when the citation was issued?

Similar to a parking ticket, the registered owner of the vehicle is the responsible party, regardless of who was driving the vehicle at the time the citation was issued.
 
Can I dispute the citation?

When you receive a citation, you have the option to pay the fine or request a court date. If you wish to contest the citation, you are required by law to mail a request to the police Automated Enforcement Division by five days prior to the payment due date. You will be mailed a notice of court date, time and location. If you appear in court, the maximum amount you can be charged is a $100 fine and $22.50 in court costs. Failure to pay the penalty or to contest the citation in court may result in the refusal or suspension of the vehicle registration. The vehicle’s registered owner is then liable for the motor vehicle flagging fee and monthly administrative handling fee.  
 
What fines are imposed for a red light citation?

The initial fine is $75. If the fine is not paid, a $10 late fee is assessed each month for up to three consecutive months. The maximum fine is $105. You have three options to pay the fine. You may pay your red light camera citation online.  Major credit cards are accepted. There is a small convenience fee for the online payment service. You may also mail a check for the amount due, along with a form included with the citation, to Howard County Red Light, PO Box 37236, Baltimore, MD 21297-3236. You may also go in person and may at the Howard County Office of Finance, 3430 Courthouse Drive, Ellicott City, MD 21043. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If the citizen contests the citation in court and is found guilty, the judge has the authority to impose a fine anywhere between $0 and $100 + $22.50 for court costs.  Maximum potential liability for standing trial would be $122.50. Failure to pay the penalty or to contest the citation in court may result in the refusal or suspension of the vehicle registration. The vehicle’s registered owner is then liable for the motor vehicle flagging fee and monthly administrative handling fee.
 
Will this go on my driving record? Will I be assessed points? Will it affect my insurance?

Red light camera citations are civil citations, not moving violations, similar to parking tickets. They are not reflected on driving records. No points are assessed. Insurance companies are not allowed to access red light camera violation information.