Distracted Driving Cameras to Issue Tickets for ViolationsJanuary 7, 2020
Today, it is a common occurrence that you will you see another motorist talking or texting while driving on a busy road or a highway. This causes a dangerous situation for every driver on the road. A proposed bill was recently introduced that would allow Montgomery County to install cameras to scan drivers that are using their cell phones. The cameras will create photo evidence that would be used to issue tickets for cell phone violations. While some believe this can help improve pedestrian safety and prevent car accidents, others are concerned over privacy violations and potential discrimination issues that may arise.
In Maryland, it is illegal to text or use a handheld phone while driving. However, unlike other violations, it can be difficult for law enforcement to monitor and enforce this law due to the challenges of providing acceptable evidence. The artificial intelligence cameras would take pictures of drivers who used their phones inappropriately. A police technician would review the photos to determine whether the motorist was violating the law. Montgomery Council Members were asked about their stance on this proposed bill after concerns about privacy were brought forth. They decided to delay their decision until they had more information about the technology that would be used and how consequences would be enforced for cell phone violators.
Opponents Voice Their Concerns
One of the strongest opponents of the bill urged the council to vote against the bill. He strongly believes that there are serious privacy concerns and that the technology is not advanced enough to address all issues. Other council members were concerned that the technology would unfairly target African American drivers and other minorities that already face similar discrimination with traffic stops and stop-and-search policies.
Supporters of the bill believe that the cameras could be affective at providing safer roads for pedestrians and other motorists. Montgomery County has recently had an increase in traffic incidents that resulted in pedestrian injuries and even fatalities. Senator Jeffrey Waldstreicher, who introduced the bill, said that Montgomery County would test the cameras for several months without issuing any citations. After the initial test period, officers would send only warnings for the first several months. He claims that the approach would be gradual and allow those necessary to evaluate issues that may arise. Motorists who are issued tickets would receive civil infractions rather than points added to their license, and fines would not exceed $500.
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