Hancock might test electronic speeding detector system

January 13, 2011|By DON AINES |

HANCOCK — Speeding through a school zone in Hancock could result in a ticket, but an officer won’t have to stop motorists if the town agrees to try a portable  automated-enforcement system.

The Town Council on Wednesday heard a presentation by Optotraffic of Lanham, Md., which makes and markets a portable-enforcement device that detects speeding vehicles with lasers and photographs them.

State law allows automated systems in school and work zones, said Mario Bohorquez, the company’s chief commercial officer.

“This is a program that does not cost the municipality any money,” Bohorquez said.

Optotraffic generates the civil citations, has them mailed out and collects the fines for the municipality, Director of Sales Mickey Shepherd told the council.

The company then shares revenues with the municipality which, by law, must use the money for public-safety purposes, he said.

The system targets vehicles traveling 12 mph or more above the posted speed limit and issues a $40 civil citation, according to company literature.

While the system is unmanned, the police are not entirely out of the equation. Bohorquez said an officer must still show up in court if a motorist contests the citation.

Bohorquez and Shepherd said Hancock could serve as a pilot program for Western Maryland.

Police Chief T.J. Buskirk asked if the system has problems with large trucks. Bohorquez said it does have difficulty capturing images of the license plates of trucks.

Shepherd said the system, in use in College Park and other communities, monitors a school zone from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., even in the summer, because schools are hubs of activity all year.

It typically reduces speeding and increases pedestrian safety, which then allows it to be moved to other trouble spots as needed, Bohorquez said.

Passing ordinances and obtaining state permits for the system can take a few months, he said.

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