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Technology versus Maryland’s traffic cameras

Baltimore and the rest of Maryland has had red light cameras since 1997 and speeding cameras since 2007. It would be a safe bet to say that most drivers don’t like them. It would also be a safe bet to say that those in charge of the state’s budget like the traffic cameras just fine.

Recently it was reported that a new technology has been invented that is designed to circumvent traffic cameras. The new cameras are the latest attempt to avoid traffic violations in ways that may or may not be illegal.

Past efforts to fool the traffic cameras include sprays designed to reflect light and plastic license plate covers. The sprays no longer work because of the variety of surfaces on the new license plates. The license plate covers work but are also easily spotted by law enforcement. The fine for obstructing a license plate is $75.

The new method of getting around the license plate recognition is through a technology that should hit the market soon. It has a slave trigger in a license plate frame that looks totally normal. When the license plate frame detects a camera flash from the traffic camera, it floods the area with enough light to distort the image.

Obviously the flash would need to react in milliseconds in order for the license plate obfuscation to achieve its objective. Because it uses flash technology, it will come at a higher price point.

The opinion of reliable sources is that the product would probably be legal in other states, but may be illegal in Maryland due to the wording on our state’s traffic camera law. In most states the legal language is less precise but in Maryland the law prevents any attempt to prevent a “recorded image.”

Because this is a new product, there could be a number of legal challenges to any fines for its usage.

Source: Capital Gazette, “No ticket: Battle with traffic cameras intensifies,” Aisha Azhar, Nov. 12, 2012

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