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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Red light cameras in Columbia


    Red light and speeding cameras have always remained controversial with many stories about the problem of accuracy of these cameras.  Most of the controversy on accuracy has been directed at the speed cameras that have to frequently be recalculated.  Not as much controversy over the accuracy of red light cameras.

     Bringing the issue of red light cameras to a local focus one only has to drive roads around Howard County to see how many drivers still run red lights.  One of the worst offending intersections in Columbia is the intersection at Brokenland Parkway and Snowden River Parkway pictured above.  Like many other intersections in Columbia the wait time for the light cycle is longer than most because of the number of left turn arrows that are needed in this intersection.   I frequently sit at this intersection when getting off of Route 32 onto northbound Brokenland Parkway.  This intersection was not designed for the amount of traffic coming through this intersection, especially at rush hour.  The situation go worse when Route 100 was completed and many drivers started using Snowden River to connect out to Route 32.  I once heard some talk about a redesign of this intersection but nothing has changed it yet.   It is not unusual to see 4 or 5 cars coming through this intersection making the left turn onto Snowden River on the red light.  Drivers know that once a string of cars makes that left turn the traffic on Brokenland can't start until all the red light runners are through the intersection.

     The most dangerous intersections for red light runners in my opinion is still the Route 175 intersections.   Years ago the mother of a classmate of one of my daughters was killed at the intersection of 175 and Thunderhill Rd. pictured above.   A truck came through this intersection on the red light and plowed into the driver side of this woman's car.  Her view of the intersection had been obscured by the large vehicle to her left.  My rule has always been if you can't see the traffic coming into an intersection because of a large vehicle, like a truck, don't enter the intersection especially if that vehicle doesn't start into the intersection on the green.   I have frequently seen speeding vehicles come through that intersection at 55 or 60 miles an hour and unfortunately some of the time after I have the green light.   Drivers frequently reach interstate highway speeds on Route 175 even though it has a number of congested intersections.   It is not hard to see that those most likely to speed on 175 are also the most likely to run a red light.  Unfortunately I don't if any of these intersections on 175 have red light cameras. .



Anonymous said...

I could be completely wrong about this, but is the lack of red light cameras because 175 is technically a state-owned/maintained road up to the point where it changes over to LPP? I don't know if red light cameras are allowed on state roads yet. Broken Land and Snowden, on the other hand, are county-owned roads I believe, so red light cameras are permitted.

duanestclair said...

I couldn't anything online that addresses this question of red light cameras on State roads but this section from a Maryland Highway Administration brochure ( implies that red light cameras could be on State roads if a local jurisdiction wanted.

"Except for the traffic signing requirements, which apply throughout the State, the preceding provisions apply only to red light cameras on State Highways or connected to State signals. Nevertheless, SHA strongly suggests that a political subdivision install camera systems only where an engineering review has established a safety justification, and when the installation will be accompanied by a public information/education effort."