Like most people, we aren’t big fans of receiving speeding tickets. No matter how conscientious a driver you try to be, there always comes a time when you find yourself moving a lot faster than you should be. Most of the time people find themselves going over the speed limit completely by accident. They miss a speed limit sign, or the road goes slightly downhill for awhile and gravity takes over. The vast majority of adults out on the road have long since gotten over the urge to “floor it.”
However, the truth of the matter is that just because you didn’t mean to speed doesn’t absolve you of driving over the speed limit. And as attorneys who offer legal assistance to car accident injury victims, we can tell you that most of our clients who were severely injured in car accidents were hurt by other drivers who were speeding.
The damage that can occur in a car accident can change dramatically over increments of only a few miles an hour. Along with a careful survey of the road and the landscape, this is the reason that speed limits are normally raised or lowered by five or ten miles an hour. An accident that happens at 55 miles an hour could be one where everyone walks away unhurt, but an accident at 65 miles an hour could cause serious injuries or worse. When someone uses “but I was only going five miles over the speed limit” as an excuse, it doesn’t carry much weight, mainly because those five miles an hour can be the difference between life and death.
We’re bringing this up because there seems to be a great deal of controversy over the new speeding cameras that have been put up all over Maryland, particularly in Montgomery County, which is our neck of the woods. We understand the controversy. At its worst it seems like something out of Orwell’s 1984to have automated cameras monitoring your speed and penalizing you when you go too fast, and at its best it just seems like some sort of dirty trick.
While we understand what people don’t like about them, we also have a pretty good understanding of why they are there. For one thing, police can’t be everywhere at once, and there are places where speeding can be a heck of a lot more dangerous. One place where cameras are set up is in work zones, where construction workers are quite literally standing there doing their work. They don’t have airbags, anti-lock brakes or crumple zones to keep them safe if a speeding driver happens to hit them. Since the police rarely have the time or the resources to monitor drivers before they head into the work zone, cameras are doing that job for them. And since we have represented many people in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. who have been injured in pedestrian accidents, we think anything that helps prevent them is a good thing.
To be sure, there is certainly a revenue-generating element behind the use of these speed cameras. And it is quite a bit of revenue as well. Baltimore County made a little over $200,000 in revenue thanks to fines issued by speed camera violations, and that was only over five months.
The most important reason for these cameras is the safety element. And if you look at things from a purely economic standpoint, the fine that you get from a speed camera violation is peanuts compared to what it could cost you if you cause an accident because you are speeding.
Going over the speed limit when a camera is operating will cost you $40, and that’s if you pay it on time. The most it will cost you is $90. That might seem like a lot, but think about what it might cost if you cause a car accident with injuries involved. You might take the speeding ticket with pleasure. If you get into a car accident that wrecks the other car and causes the occupants to be hospitalized, you and your insurance company are on the hook for that, and the insurance policy that most people have only goes so far. It is almost a guarantee that if you have the minimum insurance and you cause a serious wreck, the difference between what your policy covers and what the accident costs will be paid by you.
We don’t like speeding tickets any more than you do. But we like handling catastrophic car accidents where people get seriously hurt even less. So in our opinion, the best way to handle speed cameras is to simply obey the speed limit.
Greenberg and Bederman is a car accident injury law firm located in Montgomery County, Maryland. We have provided legal counsel for car accident victims in Washington, D.C, Maryland and Virginia since 1985. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident due to no fault of your own, contact Greenberg & Bederman for a free accident consultation.