A Maryland man is fighting back against a speed camera ticket in College Park, arguing that signage on the road doesn't make the speed limit clear.
John Bressler received the $40 ticket for driving 42 mph in a 30 mph zone in the 3300 block of Metzerott Road last month. Bressler says he was confused when he saw the ticket in his mailbox.
"I thought to myself: I think I know where that area is. I think that's a wooded straightaway that's 40 miles per hour. So why am I getting a ticket for 30 miles per hour?" he says.
It seems Bressler is both right and wrong. The speed camera that captured him sits between two different posted speed limit signs on the westbound lane of Metzerott Road. The first speed limit sign is for 30 mph. Less than 200 yards ahead is a second, more visible sign for 40 mph.
According to Prince George’s County officials, the speed limit stays 30 mph until the driver crosses the 40 mph sign.
Bressler says it isn't fair.
"I think it's pretty natural for drivers to see a sign and adjust their speed accordingly,” he says. “Most drivers aren't thinking, ‘Oh, I need to cross the plane of the sign.’”
Prince George’s County's Department of Public Works and Transportation is responsible for the signage. Spokesperson Carol Terry says the sign and the placement are legal.
"The thing that's important to remember is when you see the 30 mph sign, you comply with that speed limit until you reach another sign, in this case, the 40 mph sign," says Terry.
"So you really shouldn't speed up until you get to that sign," she added.
The City of College Park put the speed camera on Metzerott Road nearly three years ago. City Manager Joseph Nagro says it is a public safety issue and he does not think there is anything confusing about the speed limit signs.
"I've never seen a sign that said you can speed up now and get ready to get to the next speed level,” Nagro says. “I have certainly seen signs that say reduce speed ahead to warn you to that there's a slowdown coming ahead so you could slow down to get there."
Bressler contacted WTOP's TicketBuster program, and with their help is fighting the $40 ticket. He says it is not about the money, but about fairness.
"Our local officials tell us that these are about safety, and then we see a camera like this one, and I don't really think there is a safety element,” Bressler says.
City and county officials say they have gotten very few complaints about the speed camera in question, but they will consider the issue when both agencies meet next month.
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