The debate over automatic cameras for speed and red light enforcement is already fairly intense, but a secret audit from 2012 of the traffic cameras in Baltimore, MD should heat things up a bit. In an audit of the city's 83 speed cameras, The Baltimore Sun is reporting that 13 had a double digit error rate, which helps account for a system-wide error rate of 10 percent. Of course, the secret part of this secret audit was that the findings were never released to the public.
City officials originally said that the cameras had an error rate of less than a quarter of a percent, but the audit found that most were not only off, they were way off – three specific locations in the city had error rates that varied from 35 to 58 percent. As the article points out, a total of 700,000 tickets were issued in fiscal year 2012 averaging $40, and a 10 percent error rate would mean that close to $2.8 million in fines were collected erroneously.
Baltimore first started using speed cameras in 2009 and fired the initial monitoring company, Xerox State and Local Solutions, due to accuracy issues. The subsequent company, Brekford Corp., was fired last month after the city's cameras were shut down in April. It's not clear if Baltimore plans to reimburse those wrongly charged with automated speeding tickets, but the city has already agreed to settle with Xerox (to the tune of $2.3 million) for unpaid invoices not to mention the $278,000 paid out to the auditing agency.