Friday Question of the Day – Is Lowering Fines for Automated Traffic Enforcement a Good Idea? Realistic?

Back in July 2010 a reader wrote:

Speed camera fines have gone through the roof. I knew they had gone up but wasn’t aware as to exactly how much until I got a lovely new one in the mail. 1-10 mph over the speed limit: increase from $30 to $75. 11-15 mph: increase from $50 to $125 (that’s 150%!!! insane!). I’m not sure what the original fines were for higher speeds but those are very very steep now too: 16-20 mph is $150, 21-25 mph is $200, and 26-30 mph is $250. Just though everyone would like to be aware of the massive increases for minor speeding.

Since then, it seems, we hear about the deployment of more traffic/speed cameras around the city every few months.

Council Member Tommy Wells has created a Task Force to Study Lower Fines for Automated Traffic Enforcement:

Councilmember Tommy Wells announced today that he has formed a task force to study safety-focused changes in automated traffic enforcement that can lead to lower fines.

“The goal is to make sure the automated enforcement program is about safety, not just revenue,” stated Wells.

For years, the District has attempted to discourage hazardous driving by charging high fines. Drivers may have a low chance of getting caught for dangerous behavior like speeding, running red lights, or violating other’s right-of-way — but when they do get caught, the penalty is significant. The high fines are particularly harsh for low-income drivers who don’t have the discretionary budget to pay traffic infractions.

Wells added, “Some fines have increased by 250 and 500 percent over the past four years. The goal of assuring safety has been eclipsed by the government’s dependence upon the revenue generated by high fines. With the use of cameras, assuring stricter enforcement of our traffic laws, the need for high fines should be revisited.”

New plans for automated enforcement (e.g., speed cameras, red light cameras, and other new technology) mean that drivers are more likely to be caught when breaking traffic laws. Better enforcement opens the opportunity for a new strategy — lower fines with consistent enforcement.

Councilmember Wells has invited Councilmember Mary M. Cheh to co-chair the task force, and will ask the group to examine fines, automated enforcement plans, and crash data. He expects some possible recommendations will include:

• immediate adjustments to certain automated enforcement fines,
• fine reductions to be implemented once there are a certain number of automated cameras (i.e., enough to achieve consistent enforcement),
• dedication of fine revenues to road safety activities,
• graduated fines, or
• other changes to ensure that the automated enforcement program is focused on safety.

Do you think lowering fines is a good idea or just politics? If a good idea, given how much revenue it raises for the city, do you think they can realistically be lowered?

98 Comment

  • At they final admitted on the record it’s about revenue. Wonder if you can use that in a hearing contesting it?

    • What’s wrong with revenue.

      • ah

        It lines the pockets of corrupt politicians for one.

        But why should we rely upon speed cameras for revenue generation, when there are far more equitable ways to spread the burden of supporting government?

        • brookland_rez

          Relying on speed cameras for revenue is good, it penalizes those that break the law. That is very equitable. Some of the worst drivers I’ve seen are in the poor areas of DC. By making the fines higher, this will curtail the bad driving in these parts of the city.

      • Well, at least we can stop pretending it’s about safety. Politicians know that tax increases are unpopular, so they try to go through this back door route. Ridiculous.

        • Fines can serve both purposes, safety and revenue. They are not mutually exclusive. I have no problem with using the fines for revenue. It’s a tax on speeders, which I don’t have to pay. It also hits MD and VA commuters, which is also fine with me.

          • Agree on all of the above. Literally, you are spot on. I think it can be both.

            I do think, if DC eliminated the worst 10% of cameras, IE the ones on 295, porter etc, than all of a sudden, no knowledgable person can say it is only revenue. As it stands, the worst 10%, make it seem like the entire system is 100% about revenue, which it is not.

      • Saying that a study is going to be conducted to see if speed cameras are about revenue generation is like pissing on someone’s leg and telling them “it’s raining”. I can’t believe how passive Americans in general are being about the fleecing that’s happening overall by DC here. It’s really also a war on out of towners and it’s bad practice for encouraging tourism. Locals learn where cameras are, and then out of towners get tickets because they don’t know. We get tickets when we go to other cities because we don’t know where cameras are placed….

        Speed cameras are ALL ABOUT GENERATING REVENUE. If the gov can’t hire cops to patrol streets, then people only slow down at cameras, then speed up once they’re past them. This whole idea is an idiotic symbol of mental oppression for all citizens, and it’s making Americans depressed and restricted, which is ruining the legacy of freedom that the country was built upon.

        People shouldn’t follow laws because they’re being watched by cameras, they should follow laws because they’re reasonable, fair, and good for society.

        • “I can’t believe how passive Americans in general are being about the fleecing that’s happening overall by DC here.”

          I’m not passive, I just don’t care. I don’t care because I’m not being fleeced. I’m not being fleeced because I don’t speed when I drive. I don’t speed when I drive because I think the speed limits are reasonable, fair, and good for society.

          I know you won’t agree with it but I just wanted you to see a very simple, alternative point of view. I think your argument is unnecessarily lofty and rather histrionic.

          • +1. And profchris–no, you won’t be able to use this in a hearing. Why would you think that what you perceive as an improper purpose of the camera would absolve you from having to obey the speed limit?

          • You seem to be suffering from a bad case of “City Mouse v. Country Mouse”. Just wait until they install Jaywalking cameras or when they mysteriously lower speed limits to 15mph everywhere to make up another “budget shortfall” on your dime. You’ll get your first ticket, then it will be all “Oh woe is me!”. *Sigh*

          • Yeah, Jack5, those things are going to happen really soon. “They” are our elected leaders, and we have a democracy to deal with them. Something tells me that if all speed limits were lowered to 15 mph, there would be a lot of out work council member.

          • jack5, your arguments rely on hypotheticals and assumptions. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

          • If you told people 10 years ago that speed cameras would happen in DC, they’d tell you that you’re crazy. Speed cameras were a pilot to see how far local governments could go in testing the use of cameras (that don’t have the discretion of real cops) to charge people with crimes. If you don’t think that what I mentioned can happen, you’re one of those people from 10 years ago… Think about it.

        • Studies show that speed camera slow drivers not just right by the camera but in general. One study found drivers slower up to 25 miles away. Once they took the cameras away, speeds went up again.

  • I have an idea. Plan ahead, leave early, don’t speed. I’m tired of almost getting run over when walking or hit in my own car by people running lights, not stopping at stop signs or cross walks, and pretty much just driving crazy.
    Keep the fines high. Use it to improve the city streets, public areas, or just lower my income taxes.

    • I’m sure you’re a model driver, most people with your attitude are…

      Plus, with all these cameras and high fines, since they’re such an effective deterrent, you must have noticed a decline in the behavior your described, right?

      • I’m sure nobody is saying they’re a model driver. I know personally that when I have gotten a ticket, it’s deterred me from repeating the behavior that caused be to get a ticket in the first place as to avoid future tickets. Furthermore, with some of the new speed cameras that I pass on my daily commute, I have seen other drivers going more slowly in certain areas. It’s definitely not a perfect system, but it’s better than nothing I suppose. I don’t think I should have to apologize for expecting people to obey the speed limit, whether they agree with it or not. It’s not a new idea you know, getting punished for breaking the law.

      • While I am not Anonymous 11:20, I agree with his/her post. I am NOT a model driver but I have noticed myself being more careful. Particularly in the areas where I know there are cameras. And when I get a ticket, I pay it it without complaint. Because I was speeding and I got caught. And I try to remember to be more careful in the future.

        • ah

          But are you extra-more careful because the fine is $125 instead of $75?

          • Haha…maybe not. But I do know that after $90 for rolling through a stop sign, I sure as hell come to a complete stop (almost) every time now, I don’t care who honks at me!

      • Like I said, you guys are doing everything right… according to you… but have you observed everyone else’s behavior getting better with the spread of cameras and the increase in fines?

        • Since the cameras were installed at 1st and Rhode Island NW, yes, I have noticed fewer people running through the intersection. It’s not scientific — just my own observation, but I used to see someone plow through (actually, two or three cars) nearly every time I was near that intersection and now that is a much rarer sight.

          At the end of the day, however, it is an empirical question, but one that’s tough to answer. In theory, the police/DOT should have information on the number of tickets issued, but since there is a lot of publicity that (generally) precedes active ticketing with the cameras, there is no real baseline to compare ticketing before and after cameras are installed. Instead, we have imperfect measures (post-publicity), and would hopefully still see declines over time, but they might be much less than actual due to the publicity/warning period.

        • I never claimed to be doing everything right, just that I attempted to modify my behavior and paid the fines when I got caught. Nothing is going to make “everyone” slow down. But I believe speed cameras do help and I think the fines should be high enough to hurt a bit in order to be effective.

        • Two years ago, they put in a parking pad for cop cars with speed cameras on North Capitol, near the Irving Street ramps by the hospitals. I’ve noticed that cars will slow down – at least within eyeline of that area. But they always have to brake to decelerate beforehand, and speed up afterwards. So it works in that immediate area, but that’s it. But since the on/off ramps to the hospitals are the only areas requiring that low speed in that section, perhaps that’s good enough…

      • While not a model driver, I have slowed down across the board. I know there are cameras, so I drive slower everywhere. Seems like safety has increased eh?

    • You might want to read the contracts for speeding cameras before you say that. Many (including those in DC) allow the operator of the camera to reduce the speed limit below the recommended minimum to make it more likely to catch drivers “speeding” through a zone.

      • brookland_rez

        Now that I am against. They did that after they installed a camera on Rt. 1 through Brentwood/Mt Rainier.

        Speed limits should reflect what is right for the road. In most of DC it’s 25mph anyways. I don’t see them lowering it to 15mph. So I don’t think that applies to DC so much.

  • The automation was accompanied by contracting out and a roll-out that probably didn’t permit good contract management. Saw it coming. This is why I always thought this was wrong on civil liberties/governance grounds.

    The first place I saw camera enforcement was by Chevy Chase CC just over in Maryalnd. have been driving past there for years (and occasionally still do, despite not owning a car). Never much pedestrian traffic, but lots of rich people trying to get out of the country club or lots for the churches. Whether it’s money or people in Benzes trying to make a left turn, it’s not about public safety.

    • The difference is that per Maryland law, a ticket can only be issued to drivers travelling 11 mph or more over the speed limit.

    • I grew up north of that stretch, most of the way to Kensington. When people speed there, it’s dangerous. They’ve been aggressively speed trapping in that area for almost a whole generation. Previously, they used cops with radar guns. It is about safety — mainly the safety of rich people, I’ll grant you, but we should all be so lucky.

      I live on 13th below Spring. It’s a 25 mph street that gets high traffic volume, and people speed in the off hours. For someone going 45 on that stretch, $150 sounds about right. Occasionally a truck goes through that fast; I would prefer their fines to be double. I would LOVE it if they put in a speed camera there. Where do I sign up?

      • Wait a minute. You’re saying a $150 fine is an adequate punishment for driving 45 miles per hour in a residential area?

        Such reckless behavior is inexcusable. Increase the fine to $1000 for a first offense and a six-month suspension of driving privileges for a second offense.

        I know that if I caught someone driving 45 mph through my neighborhood, my natural instinct would be to pull them from the car and beat them to a bloody pulp.

        Don’t do the crime if you can’t pay the fine!

  • Criminy, how about raising fines for homicide, gun possession, and graffiti!

    • You had me until graffiti, which is a nuisance, not violent or potentially fatal

      • Graffiti is more than a nuisance — it can be used to mark gang turf, facilitating further gang behavior. And it’s costly to the city and private businesses, so we all end up paying for its removal.

        • i agree. i just happen to think that the fines are just as they are. you know some graffiti artists even serve time. that’s sufficient to me. the punishments for violent crimes are not.

  • How will Tommy Wells keep up his freewheeling bigspending ways without the revenue?

    His position is about as well thought out as most of the ideas he has!

  • sunsquashed

    I agree that it should be about safety and not raising revenue….. but, I think that lowering the fines too low may not be a sufficient deterrent to shitty drivers. It’s too bad that the only method for enforcing safe driving seems to be through cameras. I wish there were more cops on the roads giving tickets for dangerous driving that doesn’t necessarily involve speeding (not using turn signals, double parking, blocking bike lanes, cutting off others, etc…).

    • I completely agree with this (see my rant earlier this week about aggressive driving). But how many people say “Don’t the police have anything better to do” when they get a traffic ticket?

      It seems like a lose-lose situation as far as perception goes. Automating some traffic enforcement frees up police officers to do other things.

      Though the fine increases in the OP are kind of ridiculous.

  • There are so many attacks on bad drivers in comments on this site. Most come when there are posts regarding accidents or near misses with cyclists and pedestrians. Bad drivers drive poorly in part because they can. Because there are no consequences (unless the actually get in an accident) and traffic laws are rarely enforced.

    I think this is completely fine. Don’t speed. Speeding is just one part of bad driving, and if there are consequences for doing so, maybe people will start to realize that they can’t just zoom about however they like.

  • The speed cameras have gotten ridiculous. I am a rare driver; usually only on weekends but already I’ve gotten tickets from cameras on Porter Street, I-395, I-295 and Branch Avenue. On Porter Street, I got a $125 ticket for going 42, downhill on a broad, nearly empty street and not a pedestrian in sight. I am not even consciously thinking “I am speeding” , I am just driving in a manner for which the conditions allow. I know the fines are killing folks in less dense areas of the city who rely on their cars more. A pastor friend of mine who spends a lot of time in SE visiting the sick and eldery has a stack of them.

    Meanwhile as a pedestrian I find my safety most in jeopardy around places like DuPont Circle on in rush hour on K-Street.

    • So you were speeding, doing 42 in a 25MPH zone- and you think it’s wrong you received a ticket/fine?

      • I think many of the 25mph speed zones (and many 35mph) are set intentionally low in order to put a camera there. Often, there are multi-lane, divided highway situations with cameras at the bottom of hills. To top it off, speed limit signs are sparsely placed and many times there isnt even a speed limit sign between entry points and the camera. So yes, I think its unfair.

        I love when one person talks about getting a ticket in a 25 mph zone, someone comes around and automatically assumes they were speeding out in front of their house or something. No, there are really stupid 25 mph zones… but then half the crowded city streets are 35mph.

        • PDleftMtP

          The Porter camera is ridiculous. There literally isn’t a pedestrian or traffic crossing within half a mile of it (it’s on eastbound Porter in the middle of the park) – it’s clearly just in a spot where they thought they’d catch people, not protect people.

          That said, getting caught speeding is not a “civil liberties” issue. It’s a perfectly valid law, and you don’t have a right not to get caught. If anything, it’s guaranteed nondiscriminatory enforcement (whether you get ticketed doesn’t depend at all on whether a cop doesn’t like the looks of you).

          • The cameras at Porter, 395 tunnel, and north Capitol near the cloverleaf should be removed

          • agree, I’d love to see someone justify the speed camera trap on the ENTRANCE TO A HIGHWAY

          • Beach Road is by no means a highway. Its one lane each way there with no divider. I think the posted speed limit is only 35.

            As someone who drives on Porter almost everyday, I can tell you that before the camera was installed there were a lot of accidents there with people making a left turn onto Branch. There was a new fender in the road every few days from someone getting rear ended. I haven’t seen any accidents since the camera was installed. It at least makes people more alert there.

          • Porter St. & Harvard st. are both steep enough that a car can simply coast from 25 to 40 in about 4 seconds (I timed it when the new camera went up on Harvard.) I ride the brake the whole way down to stay under 30.

            If speed control is the real goal here they should install rumble strips to alert drivers, not speed traps to empty our pockets.

          • PDleftMtP

            You know there’s a separate left turn lane there and has been for years, right?

        • FYI, the speed limit is 25 *everywhere* in DC, unless there’s a sign saying otherwise. That’s why you don’t see any signs- there’s no need for them because the speed limit is 25 everywhere unless otherwise noted.

          Note: streets are 25mph, alleys are 15mph.

    • Perhaps you should be an even rarer driver? That’s what I got from this story.

      And that we need more speed and enforcement cameras (downtown).

    • So you rarely drive and you got four tickets? Dude, slow down. I drive ALL THE TIME including on Porter Street and have gotten none. And no, I’m not the best or safest driver by any stretch. But I don’t want to run over someone’s kid or grandparent or dog and I keep that in mind when I’m driving.

  • The fact that, if they wanted to and without warning, the city could lower all the speed cameras to 1mph over and then send everyone $75 tickets (presumably many many tickets to the same person within the time it takes to get the first one) is nauseating. The only thing that is keeping them from doing that now is common decency. Imagine if they decided to just make money instead?

    • “The only thing that is keeping them from doing that now is common decency.”

      Or perhaps a huge uptick in contested tickets that would further burden the already overwhelmed ticket adjudication division. 1 mph can easily be contested due to speedometer calibration or some other equipment issue. 5 mph, maybe. 11 mph, almost no chance.

    • Eventually every new car will have a built-in GPS. The GPS will monitor your speed and automatically fine you every time you go over the speed limit. I wish I was kidding.

  • I’m a very occasional driver, so from a selfish point of view, I don’t mind the fees going up. I see them as another small push to get people out of their cars and, more importantly, as a tax DC can levy on our suburban guests whose state leaders refuse to give DC the income tax their residents earn in DC. Pay up & the cameras come down (wishful thinking).

    • If DC can tax people who work here but dont live here, should MD and VA also be able to do that?

      • PDleftMtP

        You know what? They can.

      • If I live in DC and work in MD or VA, I have to pay income tax in those states. However, if I live in MD or VA, I don’t have to pay DC income tax. That’s what everyone is talking about when they say ‘commuter tax.’ Darrell Issa just suggested it, because it’s the right thing to do, but Steny Hoyer (MD) said ‘over my dead body.’ So while Congress maintains the right to meddle in all of our local affairs, DC doesn’t have the ability to do what most other states do.

  • the $40 speeding ticket i got once on CT Ave in Bethesda was enough to teach me a lesson. $125 for a similar offense in DC is just bullshit. politicians can pander all they want to me on this one.

  • A like how the speed camera on Porter St going down the hill between Wisconsin and Connecticut works. There’s one of those LCD signs that shows how fast you’re going. Next to that sign is a notice along the lines of “Speeding activates stop light ahead.” If you speed down the hill, you then have to come to a complete stop over a minute or two about 1000 feet down the road at a light that turns red. No ticket issued, no fines collected. It just eliminates the reason to speed.

    Not practical in areas where you can’t stop through traffic, but it works quite well in residential areas like Porter.

    I think there should be a stop light camera in case somebody decides to be a jackass and blow through it.

  • I have to agree with other posters. I am a regular commuter and driver. I have gotten a few of these tickets and now I drive slower. They work and I have become a better driver because of them. Was it annoying to pay $100? Sure, but was it also my fault? Yes.

    • Plus being forced to drive slower increases your gas mileage, so you end up saving in the long run.

      • I don’t think this is accurate… gas mileage is optimal around 55 mph. (Obviously 55 mph is not a realistic speed limit for city streets.)

        In a city environment, you’ll get better gas mileage if you’re “coasting” along at a lower speed, rather than zooming down the street at 40 mph and then braking at the light. But if the lights are all green, you would get better mileage by going 40 the whole way than by going 25.

  • I do not have a problem with the cameras and fines at all, however I think there should not be a ticket issued unless the speed exceeds 8-10mph. Spedometers and the cameras may not be calibrated accurately so there needs to be some leeway – just as real, live police officers do.

    Plus – I think these contracts need to be reviewed by inspectors general to ensure that the public is getting a fair shake – especially if we are the ones paying increasing fines.

  • Yes, fines definitely need to be lowered since they are “civil” penalties, not criminal, and thus have a gross lack of due process. Penalties over $100 can present a financial hardship to many people, and given that the speed camera system isn’t perfect, people need to have a more transparent process to argue their case when they feel they are innocent…just the same as they would if they were pulled over by an actual police officer.

    In addition, these things need to be removed from the freeway immediately, as they do nothing but cause traffic jams, thus creating even more unsafe conditions than before.

    I fully support speed cameras in high-risk residential areas, and benefit from one every day as a pedestrian who crosses 19th Street SE by the Stadium Armory Metro. However the fines are out of control for “civil” penalties.

  • Do people not realize that between 70 to 80% of the money in a camera ticket goes to the operator of the camera, not the city?

  • Fuck them. Fight every ticket you get from automated cameras. Clog the system. I refuse to drive in this city for this very reason. I’m sick of being looked at as a revenue center for “law enforcement” in this city. Revenue that ultimately finds its way into CORRUPT politicians who line their own pockets. The vast majority of us aren’t criminals. When all the shootings, assaults, robberies, and break-ins have been curbed, I’ll be much more sympathetic to paying for all these automated camera’s throughout the city.

    • “I refuse to drive in this city for this very reason.”

      Given your misplaced anger, we’re all very grateful for that.

  • Automated speeding enforcement has been proven to be effective in reducing crashes (injury and fatal). The monetary value of a citation fine also has been shown to have a deterrent effect (the higher the fine the greater the effect) in traffic safety enforcement (seat belts, speeding, etc).

    Here’s a Q&A on speeding enforcement:

    Here’s a State by State breakdown of automated speed enforcement and related fines:

  • Yeah this is BS. I was mailed a ticket for going 5 miles over the speed limit on the SW Freeway. I don’t think going over 5 is reckless.

    • Sparta

      Sane speed limits and appropriate fines are fine. The problem is that neither is the case in DC.

      I got a $150 ticket around NY Ave/395 for 3 miles over the speed limit.

      Suspect even those who say “you shouldn’t have to worry if you don’t speed” have gone 3 miles over the limit more than once.

  • brookland_rez

    Make them higher. People should not break traffic laws. If you don’t want to worry about getting a ticket, don’t speed or run red lights. In my experience, the speed cams don’t go off anyway unless you’re doing more than 5mph over, which is very reasonable.

    Up until recently, there were only like 10 throughout the District, and everyone knew where they were and slowed down for them. We need so many that people can’t keep track of where they are. I see people speeding and engaging in reckless behavior everyday. I say put a camera on every block until this reckless behavior is stopped completely.

  • This is what happens when taxes are viewed with such hostility in society. Local and state governments need to get revenue from somewhere, so you get these bullshit fines and fees instead.

    Having said that, seems pretty easy to avoid these particular fines.

  • I got a $125 ticket from a camera on Macarthur blvd a few months back. I was driving down that same road the other day again, and it was amazing how everyone was following the speed limit, and no one was trying to get on my tail and try to make me go faster… so as much as I hated that fine, maybe it is a good thing.

  • I have two issues with the cameras. First, I think it means fewer traffic cops, and I think that the dangers posed by other kinds of reckless driving (texting away, not stopping, not signalling, swerving in and out of lanes, stopping in the middle of the road for no reason, passing on the right, ignoring stop signs, failure to yield to pedestrians, blocking the box, etc) are worse than the speeding. Just focusing on speed cameras could lead to less enforcement of all this other stuff. That’s what bugged me about the 15 mph proposal. Enforcing all current laws (including speeding) would do much more for safety IMHO (as a regular biker and walker and occasional driver).

    Second, sync the bloody lights to the flow of traffic. And publicize it. I hate it when the only way to avoid hitting every single light on a road is to speed. In this town time saved speeding or not speeding is pretty much negligible in comparison to the lights.

  • When I drive to work I go through the zoo to get to Rock Creek Parkway. There are 3 stop signs in a row.

    One day, when I stopped at the first stop sign, the driver behind me sat on his horn. When I stopped at the next, he was out of his car in a flash, running up to me with a GUN in his hand. Thank god I have a fast car, and took off. I saw him almost hit another car as he started chasing me.

    Scary people out there in there in the morning commute.

    • Jesus. Glad you’re alright. Hope you called the cops when it was safe to do so.

    • PDleftMtP

      Seriously? I take the same route – glad you’re OK. And watch out for the bikers who invariably blow through the stop sign on the trail (um, it’s there FOR YOU!) and the joggers who run across Beach Drive up the exit ramp.

  • I love high fines for speeding. They either a.) cause people to obey the law and not speed, or b.) force people to pay some of the societal cost for their driving unsafely. Either is great. And in doing so they don’t cost society as a whole much because the revenue generated ultimately just leads to other taxes being lower or services being better. I’d love it if we doubled the fines again and installed way more speed cameras. Let people who break the law and put us all at risk pay for their actions!

    • Your argument presumes a societal cost. Which is kind of the underlying question — what fines promote safety as opposed to just raising revenue?

      I would submit, for instance, that there is no societal cost to driving, say one MPG over, on [major road of your choice], with no traffic, pedestrians, etc.

      Presuming a societal cost assumes that the speed limits were set in a perfectly rational, optimal way for every road. Which is probably not the case.

      Heck, you could even argue that there’s a societal benefit to driving 26 instead of 25. Better MPG, fewer greenhouse gasses.

      • HaileUnlikely

        As indicated in another post, I’ll grant that the cameras on Porter and New York Avenue are silly. There might be couple of other ones in that boat as well. However, the vast majority of speed cameras in DC are placed at locations that do have traffic and pedestrians at pretty much all times except about 2-4 AM. Thus, arguments about societal cost in the absence of other things that are virtually always present (traffic, pedestrians) are of very little relevance to the underlying question. Note that I didn’t say completely irrelevant, but I’ll stand by “of very little relevance.”

  • I floor it after passing the Porter camera …

  • I notice people slamming on their brakes a lot more when they approach the cameras. Wonder if there are more fender-benders?

  • HaileUnlikely

    The way to avoid being subject to the fines in question is fairly straightforward. I’ll concede that a few of the cameras are in questionable locations (Porter – maybe. New York Avenue out by Bladensburg Rd. – definitely), but the vast majority of them are located in places with a fair amount of pedestrian traffic and have lots of speeding cars. I won’t pretend to be a model driver, but if I do get a ticket for speeding, I don’t go whine about big brother spying on me or trying to raise revenue instead of promote safety or whatever, I say “shame on me” and pay the damn ticket.

  • I’m fine with cameras in locations where people speed on roads not designed to handle such speeds, or locations with high pedestrian traffic.

    But the cameras on roads where the speed limit is artificially low on roads designed for high-speed traffic and with few, if any, pedestrians are fairly obvious cash-grabs by the city. I’m talking about the cameras on Porter Street, I-395/295, New York Avenue at Bladensburg. Those cameras are there simply to line the city’s coffers.

    Funny that no one has mentioned that Wells is running for mayor, and that this his first step in establishing his for-the-people credentials without totally alienating the GGW crowd to which he is beholden (seeing as how GGW also has pushed for lower fines in exchange for more cameras).

  • Revenue or not these electronic enforcement techniques work! They do save lives. Most municipalities are struggling for additional sources so why should people care as long as our taxes aren’t being raised. The ones breaking the law are the ones paying for it. Lastly, the “low income” drivers” that don’t have the discretionary income to pay the fines…too bad. If you can’t pay the fine, don’t do the crime.

  • FYI, for the city to win a case against you involving a traffic cam, they rely on two unconstitutional abuses of the courts:

    1. That you are guilty until proven innocent, and
    2. That if you weren’t driving your vehicle you need to testify against someone else.

    You are ALWAYS innocent until PROVEN guilty, and you NEVER have to testify against yourself or someone else, PERIOD.

    If I ever get a ticket from one of these cams, I’m going to testify that I’m innocent and that the burden is not on me to prove otherwise.

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