Speed Camera Avoidance Tactics: Some Legal, Some Not
There are several tactics used by motorists to avoid being caught by a speed camera, but not all of them are legal under state law.
The ways motorists are trying to avoid speed camera tickets are as varied as they are creative.
But drivers be warned: Many of the products claiming to get you out of tickets are illegal. Howard County enacted speed cameras this week, and violators are subject to a $40 fine.
Here is a primer on the products:
License Plate Covers: License plate covers, like those sold by PhotoMaskCover claim to cloud any image taken by a speed camera. According to the website, each $39 cover is transparent if viewed from the ground but becomes hazy when viewed from higher angles.
The company claims that if a speed camera is mounted high enough, the license plate number is unreadable in the picture.
PhotoBlocker is a spray-on version of this product and is available for $29. This works only when a flash is used. The clear spray reflects the light, covering the numbers on the plate, according to the website.
License plate covers are illegal in Maryland. The fine for using a cover is $70, according to the District Court of Maryland. The law also prohibits selling or promoting the use of covers and carries a $70 fine for each violation.
GPS Locaters: The locations of speed cameras is public information and readily available online. A number of companies charge a fee to provide this information in different formats.
Beatthecameras.com offers a product called the GPS Angel for $129. It looks similar to a radar detector and is mounted on the dashboard.
The Angel uses GPS coordinates of known speed camera locations and an alarm system to warn driver as they approach a monitored area.
A similar service is offered by PhantomAlert. For a yearly fee of $29, customers can download the speed camera locations to a personal GPS-capable device.
Free smartphone applications like Trapster also use known speed camera locations and GPS data to warn motorists when they are approaching speed cameras.
Using a mobile phone or other handheld device was banned in Maryland last October. Later that year, as The Washington Post reported, the law was amended to include texting while driving as well, an offense that carries a maximum $500 fine.
However, according to Elena Russo, a spokesperson for Marlyand State Police, using a GPS device falls under the exceptions to this law and does not carry any restrictions.
Flashing Lights to Warn Motorists of Speed Cameras: Another tactic motorists use to avoid speed limit enforcement is flashing their high beams to warn oncoming traffic about approaching areas monitored by speed cameras or police officers themselves.
Russo said the flashing tactic is not specifically outlawed by Maryland transportation law, but using high beams within 500 feet of oncoming traffic carries a fine of $60. She said it is an officer's discretion whether or not to enforce the law in these circumstances.
Sherry Llewellyn, a spokesperson for Howard County Police, released this statement about the legal and illegal tactics motorists use to avoid speed camera tickets:
“The legal way to avoid citations is to obey the posted speed limit. We would hope that if there are other ways for people to elude the speed cameras, Howard County drivers would not engage in those activities.”