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Towns want speeding curbed

March 13, 1998

By GUY FLETCHER

Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS - In small towns and villages in Washington County and other parts of Maryland, speeding drivers are alarming pedestrians, bikers and parents pushing strollers.

"They are fearful, and you can't blame them," said Del. Louise V. Snodgrass, R-Frederick/Washington.

Snodgrass said that is why she is sponsoring legislation in the General Assembly that would allow counties and municipalities to designate areas where speeding would result in a doubled fine.

"The poor municipalities say this is something that could really help them if the state would give them the authority," Snodgrass said.

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Nonetheless, she said the bill might have a tough time being approved by the House Commerce and Government Matters Committee, which held a hearing on the legislation earlier this week. A committee vote on the legislation could come as early as today.

She said speeding has become a problem in small towns because many were designed before automobile traffic, with homes and businesses close to the streets.

Meanwhile, many drivers ignore lower speed limits in the towns after they have been driving at higher speeds in rural areas.

"The speeding is out of control," Snodgrass said.

Speeding fines range from $60 to $520. Snodgrass said posting a sign that tells drivers the fines would double would force them to think twice about speeding and provide some relief to municipal officials.

"I call it a frustration bill. They just don't know what else to do," she said.

The cost for a town or county to erect a sign would be $110, according the Department of Legislative Services.

Boonsboro Mayor Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman said his town, like many others, has to deal with speeders. But he said the problem has lessened recently with an increased presence of the Washington County sheriff's deputies.

"It really has people wondering where they are setting up radar right now," he said.

Kauffman would not comment on Snodgrass' bill, saying he was not familiar with the proposal.

During the hearing on the legislation held Tuesday, no one spoke in opposition. But Snodgrass said she since heard from committee members who said they would not support it, in part because the committee is also considering similar legislation that would restrict the double-fine zones to school areas.

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