Ari Ashe, wtop.com
LAUREL, Md. - Since the Intercounty Connector opened, nearly 7,000 speeding tickets have been issued, according to documents obtained by WTOP.
While most tickets are clearly violations, some raise questions for drivers.
Police issued nearly 200 tickets to drivers going less than 65 mph in a 55 mph zone. On Oct. 6, 2011, a driver was ticketed for going 59 mph.
"That's crazy. I've never heard of that before and I don't understand it," says Sergio Gutierrez of Laurel.
He says it's confusing, especially with the recent story of Maryland State Police ticketing a woman for driving 62 mph in the left lane of Interstate 95 in Laurel.
The speed limit on that stretch is 65 mph.
"It's not fair," he says. "You're damned if you do, damned if you don't."
With thousands of speeding tickets being issued, Alan Bonney of Laurel wonders whether something else is going on.
"Sounds like somebody needs money. Perhaps the police are just trying to meet a quota," Bonney says.
Eric Henning of Laurel says drivers may be breaking the speed limit, but says police really need to be looking for another ICC problem.
"If you're really interested in safety, you should be going after drivers weaving in and out of traffic," says Eric Henning of Laurel.
Maryland Transportation Authority Police say that officers have discretion as to when it's appropriate to enforce traffic laws.
"A driver who exceeds the posted speed limit by even 1 mph is violating the law and is at risk of being charged for excessive speed," says Sgt. Jonathan Green with the agency.
"It is important to note that the risk of injury during a motor vehicle collision increases as vehicle speed increases, making speed enforcement critical in terms of maintaining highway safety," he says.
Police also note that the 200 tickets represent less than 3 percent of the 7,000 tickets.
On Saturday, March 30, the speed limit on the ICC will go up from 55 mph to 60 mph. A Maryland Transportation Authority study found the highway can support the higher speed limit without any safety risk.
Only a half-dozen drivers have received speeding tickets going 60 mph or less on the ICC. The latest case happened last October.
On the other end are tickets that are less debatable. Sixteen drivers were caught driving over 100 mph on the ICC.
In fact, on Sept. 17, 2011, a driver was pulled over for going 140 mph.
"Wow, OK. That driver is definitely in need of a ticket. That's completely unsafe," Gutierrez says.
"I can't understand how anyone would go that fast on a public road. If you want to go that fast, rent out a race track," Henning says.
"This is not the Autobahn in Germany. That driver should be locked up. It's people like those who put the safety of everyone at risk," says Raymond Kuhns of Laurel.
Green tells WTOP the driver challenged the ticket in court, but a judge found him guilty.
While most of the people with whom WTOP spoke aren't convinced a higher speed limit will do much, they hope it won't encourage more drivers to become speedsters.
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