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AAA questions accuracy of College Park speed cameras

Wednesday - 8/17/2011, 4:52am  ET

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- College Park speed cameras are under fire. AAA Mid-Atlantic says they aren't accurate and are placed to trap drivers.

More than 60,000 tickets have been issued since last fall, bringing in $2.4 million, 40 percent of which goes to the camera vendor, according to the automobile agency.

John B. Townsend II, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic, points specifically to one camera on Mettzerott Road near the University of Maryland campus.

"It does not comply to state standards or county standards for school zones. It is a zone unto itself," he says.

Townsend says other cameras in town are placed to trap drivers.

In one area, he says, the speed limit increases from 30 mph to 40 mph within view of the camera.

"The person automatically starts speeding up and he gets a ticket."

But that's not the only issue.

Richard LaDieu, who drives part time for the University of Maryland, says he's been ticketed twice. Both speed cameras tickets were proven wrong by a chip in his car.

"It monitors everything the computer monitors in the car. It shows me what my speed was any one second, and what my maximum speed was any given trip," says LaDieu.

In both instances, the speed camera registered he was driving faster than his car chip recorded.

The camera vendor, OptoTraffic, just received the contract for all of Prince George's County's speed cameras.

Townsend says the town will get between $300,000 and $600,000 of the money generated. From there, what doesn't go to the vendor goes to the Prince George's County Police Department, which uses it to pay overtime to officers who review each ticket.

A call to the mayor of College Park about this issue was not immediately returned.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)