More Traffic Cameras Issuing Tickets Coming Soon

Photo by PoPville flickr user UStreetV

Thanks to a reader for passing along from NBC Washington:

“The District is adding dozens of new ticket-issuing cameras across the city, expanding its photo enforcement capabilities to include infractions such as stop sign running, blocking the box and failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.”

Judge not lest ye be judged…

122 Comment

  • Jack5 is gonna LOVE this. 😉

    • Lemme just state for the record, I’d have no problem with the proliferation of traffic control cameras if –

      1. Speed limit signs were always posted before them properly reflecting the accurate speed limits they measured.
      2. If the cameras were all painted yellow to indicate their presence.
      3. If local budgets were not in desperate need of replenishment when the programs were first started.
      4. If speed cameras didn’t take unfair advantage of out-of-towners that don’t know regional speed limits and camera placement.
      5. If the government was more transparent with how the cameras worked and stats on how they save lives/prevented accidents at each location versus the past before they were placed.
      6. If contracting companies weren’t making an insane amount of money on installing and maintaining the cameras.
      7. If local governments made clear the exact places where money from traffic camera proceeds, and all other issued tickets (parking, car taxes, gas tax, tolls, etc) go on a publicly transparent web site.

      I don’t think I’m being too unreasonable here…

      • You are being unreasonable…

        1. They are.
        2. Absurd. Why not paint them pink? Who cares that they are semi-hidden, even though they are very easily seen, especially if you aren’t speeding.
        3. Irrelevant. They do have a positive effect that they raise money, in addition to being safer. Most would prefer more cameras over increasing property/income taxes, as they did in MD.
        4. They don’t. They take advantage of people who break the laws. Just because the laws are enforced lackadaisically where you come from does not mean you are being “taken advantage of”
        5. They are transparent. They tell you how many tickets are written, how much money is raised, and where all of the cameras are located.
        6. Tough. DC is not in the traffic camera business. Nor are other localities. You do have an issue here though when contractors are getting a %. This should simple be a fee per camera, and a monthly service fee.
        7. It is very transparent where the money goes. Into the general fund. See above about not having to raise property/income taxes as a result of this money coming in.

  • WTOP finds the obvious that nobody stops at stop signs:

    More cameras is totally the way to go. And I really wish the city didn’t publish the location of these cameras. Not knowing where the cameras are would lead to everyone just driving in a legal manner at all time. Or, well, only 10 miles an hour over the speed limit.

    • I think people are mostly overly cautious in this city already. Constantly people drive 20 mph in a 30 mph zone because there’s a sign stating things are photo enforced (and often totally lacking of any cameras).

  • This is the perfect opportunity for someone to design a car that looks like a camera and then speed with it through the city garnering hundreds of tickets for numerous violations just to make a political statement about greedy back-patting and contractor pocket-lining politicians.

    I know… “Follow the speed limits and you won’t get tickets… blah… blah…blah…” *sigh*…

    • I thought of you the other day when I nearly got hit by a car flying around Sherman Circle. As the driver noticed me crossing at the last second, slammed on the brakes and skidded toward me, I was just glad that I could believe in the inherent good nature of people to keep me safe while walking home. In summary: more cameras please.

      • Drivers are also pedestrians after we park. I am never so busy in my personal schedule that I can’t wait for all cars to be clear (and signals positive to cross) in the streets before crossing because otherwise I may have a bunch of my personal time wasted healing in a hospital.

        • You may have missed the point. Had the car not been speeding, I would have been fully across the street by the time it reached me. I was actully quite surprised to see it coming at me because it was nowhere near me when I started crossing. Your willingness to fully give drivers freedom to flout the laws as they see fit annoys me.

          • Yep, A camera would have totally saved you from that one speeding car right then when you were peering into your iPhone.

          • Anon 7:06, how was I peering into my iPhone when it was on my bedside table at the time? I see you’re also from the Jack5 School of Letting Bad Drivers Off The Hook. I don’t get it. I walk, I drive, I follow the rules. What’s so hard about that?

    • …a political statement…about my sense of entitlement…to put city residents at risk…b/c ME. ME ME ME ME ME. I NEED to speed. I NEED to enter intersections I can’t clear before the light turns red. If I can’t, my whole sense of self-worth goes right down the drain.

      • Please stop. You’ve already made it clear that you’re a clueless, self-centered idiot. Go troll somewhere else.

        • If by clueless you mean I walk and ride DC’s streets daily and recognize that the biggest threat to my safety isn’t some thug pulling a gun or a knife on me, but rather some self-centered douche piloting a multi-ton vehicle in a daft manner, than yes, totally clueless chap here.

          If by self-centered you mean entitled to walk or ride safely to my destination, than yes, guilty as charged.

      • Well, seriously, my whole identity is wrapped up in my car and my car lifestyle. Are you saying I wasted my money?

  • I dont see how trying to enforce blocking the box and failing to yield to pedestrians is going to lead to anything other than administrative headaches and constant appeals. I just dont know how they’re going to provide a fair version of events thats immune to constant challenges…are they going to have several different cameras running at all times to get video before and after? The fact that there is a pedestrian in a cross walk at the same time as a car, does not necessarily mean that the car didnt yield.

    I think they need to stop being so creative.

    • The blocking the box one is easy. Is the light red? Is your car in the intersection? That’s a ticket.

      The stop sign running is easy and tested. Sensor in the ground determine if you stopped. A video is also recorded. If the sensors show you didn’t stop and the video backs it up, you get a ticket.

      The pedestrian one does raise some logistical issues and I too want to see the methodology behind how a ticket is given.

      • Blocking the box isnt so straight forward. People routinely just randomly stop in front of you for no apparent reason. As a result you are left blocking the intersection while they unload people into the crosswalk. Obviously the one we all think of are the people who just block the intersection when they shouldnt be because they are just inconsiderate and dont care if they block traffic. I go out of my way to avoid blocking the intersection and I’ve still managed to end up in the middle because of other peoples’ idiocy. I doubt the camera can control for the idiot actions of a 3rd party. It will either be yes or no.

        • Exactly (I’m the one who commented below). I think blocking the box would be preferable to running over the pedestrians or biker or other car that decided to jump in front of you right before the light turned yellow.

        • No…it’s really pretty simple to not block an intersection. Sorry. If it looks like it’s getting close, you stop and wait and like a big girl/boy, you don’t give in to the peer pressure from the idiots behind you. Some shmuck will doubtless try and go around you…let him get the ticket..

          • What do you do if you have plenty of time to make it across, but just before you do a Metro bus makes a left turn from the opposite direction, and by the time that hulking piece of metal clears the intersection the light has turned red?

          • Right… so what do you do when there’s no one in front of the person in front of you and the person in front of you (probably a cab) just decides to stop in front of you and let people out?

            In your world, no one should enter the intersection until the person in front of them has already cleared the entire intersection.

          • “In your world, no one should enter the intersection until the person in front of them has already cleared the entire intersection.”

            Actually, it would be the entire intersection PLUS one car length ahead.

      • Yeah, but a lot of drivers end up blocking the box due to circumstances beyond their control and would try to fight the unfair ticket.

        • don’t enter the intersection if you can’t be sure to clear it by the time the light turns red. its actually very simple.

          • Yeah, so the guy behind me will go into a honking rage because I’m not moving, and then swerve around me to get by.

          • And when is that ever guaranteed?

          • ah

            In theory communism works too.

            It’s not very simple in the real world, because the practical effect of making it “simple” is that each car must stop at every green light and wait until there is at least a car length of room on the other side of the intersection before proceeding, with no one in between.

            That simply doesn’t work for traffic flow.

          • if there are cars stopped across the intersection of course you shouldn’t enter it.

          • Said the guy who rides his bike because he got a DUI… Sorry in advance, but you’re indicating that you don’t drive by saying something like that.

            It’s easy to get stuck in the road when someone makes an early turn before you while a light is changing.

          • Jack5-Your contempt for people on bikes is amusing and sad at best. Perhaps the person riding has chosen to do so? Shocking I know…but some people do indeed find it the best way to get around and make a logical decision to ride bikes.

            Did I miss the part where a previous commenter got a DUI or…?

  • justinbc

    Yeah, enforcing the pedestrian one seems incredibly difficult. Many pedestrians don’t even know what the actual law is, I wonder who will be writing them tickets? (I myself didn’t read the actual code until earlier this year, if you haven’t then it might be enlightening)

    • Right, and what about the situation where the pedestrian actually motions for the car to go through. Sometimes this can improve traffic flow tremendously but its technically illegal – but the pedestrian is waiving his right of way.

      I just dont get this at all. It sounds like a tremendously bad idea.

  • i would love cameras to ticket people blocking the box to be put all over the city. would improve life for everyone.

    • I’m guessing you never drive.

      • yes, i drive, my wife and i carpool along a route where idiots routinely block the box which reduces slow-flowing traffic to complete gridlock a couple of times a month. better enforcement would keep perpendicular traffic flowing which is good for everyone. box-blocking is the ultimate selfish driver act.

        • You should be more empathetic and compassionate and try to put yourself in the driver’s shoes. Sometimes it can’t be helped. Being trapped in the middle of an intersection is terrifying and not a position a driver would willingly put themselves in.

          • I see morons ‘trapped’ in the intersection every couple of weeks and do my best to honk like crazy and make them feel uncomfortable, because 95% of the time they could have avoided it if that hadn’t crept up on traffic that was already stopped completely as the countdown timer walk sign was counting down close to zero.

          • Are you for serious? Plenty of people willing put themselves there everyday because they’re too impatient to wait one cycle of the light. It’s really pathetic when people do it on their daily commute, which they should know well enough to avoid it.

          • If you’re in the *middle* of the intersection, it could have been avoided. You shouldn’t have entered that intersection because it wasn’t certain you could get through it. If you get stuck in the crosswalk with your tail partially blocking the cross traffic in the lane closest to the curb because a ped decided to cross, maybe that happens, but that won’t lead to gridlock.

          • “Plenty of people willing put themselves there everyday because they’re too impatient to wait one cycle of the light.”

            That makes no sense. If they’re trapped in the intersection they still have to wait one cycle of the light. If it was clear they couldn’t make it they wouldn’t have tried.

          • That’s crap. There’s a really cool way to avoid it by not pulling into the intersection unless it’s clear and there is room on the other side for your car. Just because the light is green doesn’t mean you have to pull into the intersection if traffic is backed up.

          • I don’t know why other drivers are defending people who block the box. Blocking the box is a prime cause of totally disabling gridlock, the kind where no one gets through an intersection in a whole light cycle. That sort of gridlock quickly backs up and grinds traffic to a halt throughout downtown. Certain intersections, like 23rd and N NW, are very common locations for this, and at least every couple of weeks I watch idiots pull into the intersection with just a few seconds left on the countdown timer and no chance of the traffic in front of them clearing before they have a red light. I would love, love, love them getting nice fat tickets for doing this because it screws everyone else.

          • People seem to indicate that box blocking is a horrible crime worse than kidnapping a toddler…

            It’s most prevalent when there are big events in an area without traffic control. People cut lanes and turn in front of oncoming traffic. Sure there are ignorant and selfish drivers out there, but punishing the innocent ones that are a victim to these other (bad) drivers only adds injury to insult. It’s self righteous legislation.

          • At least kidnapping a toddler doesn’t inconvenience lots of other people and prevent them from getting to work on time. I mean, it’s bad for the parents and all, and I’m not suggesting people do it, but kidnapping a toddler isn’t really on the same level as blocking the box.

          • Blocking the box “not a position a driver would willingly put himself in”???

            Funny! As we all know, these drivers are — with the rare inattentive fool excepted — greedy people who are willing to endanger and block pedestrians and cross-traffic in order to avoid waiting another minute at a red light.

          • Blocking the box a “crime worse than kidnapping a toddler…”?

            Take a deep breath. It’s just a traffic citation, and you’ll be okay. Just drive more responsibly and it won’t happen again.

          • “Take a deep breath. It’s just a traffic citation, and you’ll be okay. Just drive more responsibly and it won’t happen again.”

            I’m pretty sure he was joking. Just take life less seriously and you’ll be okay.

          • “It’s self righteous legislation” — aka criminal law.

            Jack5 is a 14-year-old boy.

          • In otherwords, these thoughtless, inattentive drivers should have their privilege rescinded.

  • Meanwhile, roving gangs of ATVs and two-stroke dirtbikes are joyriding around the city unchecked. I saw a group of about 20 blow through a red light in front of two cops last night. No reaction.

    • If it makes you feel better I saw a cop pull over a scooter for running a red light right in front of my house yesterday. Apparently the driver thought an apology was all that was needed after running the red light, then running from the cops (yes, on a scooter). It was pretty funny to watch. #idiots

    • There was a cop car quasi-chasing (following, but not at a super-high speed) two teenagers on dirtbikes on my block yesterday. I was pleasantly surprised.

  • I don’t understand why people are b*tching about law enforcement enforcing the law.

    • I guess you don’t drive in DC. Otherwise you’d be able to rattle off a list of unavoidable situations where a law-abiding driver gets fined because of one of these cameras.

      • No, but I’m a pedestrian that fears for my life when legally crossing the street and a car turns without looking (or caring) or purposefully speeds up when approaching a crosswalk to prove a point.

      • Well, I drive in DC every day, and have never gotten a camera ticket in 3 years. The fact you think that getting a camera ticket is unavoidable is likely just because you are a law-breaking bad-driver.

        Drive the speed limit, don’t run red lights, and stop at stop signs. In other words, don’t break the law.

        • I’m a law abiding citizen that lives in DC and I got a speed camera ticket for a camera that was posted at an on ramp to US 50 where there was no speed limit posted. I took pictures and fought the ticket (and won!) yet the camera is still there. Moral of the story…the traffic court disagreed with my ticket but the money making camera remains in place…

          • if there’s no speed limit posted, the last one you passed applies.

          • I turned onto the street right before the camera. There was no speed limit posted on the street I came down on. Hence why I beat the ticket. How can you enforce a speed that is not posted??

  • Will these issue citations to Metrobuses that block the box and/or crosswalk?

  • So what happens if there’s a pedestrian in the crosswalk but you’ll end up blocking the box if you stop to yield to them? Just write it off as the cost of driving in DC?

    • you shouldn’t have entered the intersection if you can’t be sure you’ll get through it before your light turns red.

      • How am I supposed to know a pedestrian won’t dive out into the crosswalk? Or a biker won’t shoot out in front of me? Or a loose dog won’t dart out in front of the car? I’ll glance in all directions to make sure nothing’s coming, but I’m no mind reader.

        • Do you live your whole life running a series of scenarios through your head? Seriously.

          • Nope. It’s just that all these things have happened to me.
            But even if I did, it’s better than living my life belittling other people’s experiences.

          • I’m not belittling your life experiences, just the silly comment that apparently resulted from it (them).

          • Uh, yeah, right. My fault for feeding the troll. 🙂

      • “you shouldn’t have entered the intersection if you can’t be sure you’ll get through it before your light turns red.”

        that’s very naive.

  • I support speeding cameras, and not blocking the box, but this is just a terrible idea. As others have mentioned, there are too many situations where a driver ends up blocking the box through no fault of their own. I don’t go out of my way to avoid speed cameras (because it’s easy to not speed) but I would definitely avoid any intersection that was being monitored for box blocking. I think most drivers would. It’s just too risky.

  • brookland_rez

    Good. We need them in Brookland. I never see anyone stop at the 4 way stops.

  • Critics of speed and red-light cameras seem very immature in complaining about traffic fines and the “greedy” city officials. Are traffic fines for traffic cameras higher than for citations issued by an officer? If they have a problem with the fine amount, or the justice of getting a ticket at all, then they should redirect their complaints to the posted speed limits and traffic laws. The traffic cameras are simply tools of enforcement that do a simple job more efficiently than human officers.

  • GREAT news. Hope they add an anti-block-boxing camera to 16th and Irving NW, which in the morning is clogged every cycle by selfish motorists driving south on 16th.

  • Do any other cities do this?

    • Only the smart ones, intent on making themselves better and unshackling themselves from 70+ years of designing themselves around the ever receding goal of auto-mobility.

      • What does that mean? Do you know of any other cities that are specifically doing this or are you just spouting nonsense? I’m just curious to see if it’s worked anywhere else.

  • I love the logic being applied here… “I see plenty of people who block the intersection in completely avoidable situations with no consideration to the people around them that they are inconveniencing… therefore, there cannot be several instances that people block the intersection through no fault of their own”

    Unless the cameras can pick and choose who gets tickets, I think this is a stupid idea. Moreover, I think anyone who gets on here and preaches how “you should only enter the intersection if you know you can exit it” are dumb. If you think that everyone should wait until the person in front of them clears the intersection before entering it, fine… but thats the dumbest idea ever. If you think people should be allowed to enter the intersection before the person in front of them clears it… well, unavoidable situations will occur that will strand cars in the middle. Thats just life. Stoplights cant provide perfect order so that you dont get delayed because of mistakes or negligence. You should learn to live with this.

    • If cars get stranded in the middle they should get tickets. And, the law says that they will. A traffic cop isn’t going to cut you a break because you pulled out into the intersection without sufficient space to make sure you can clear it before the light changes. It’s not like the camera is going to apply a different standard. You apparently don’t have much experience driving in the city if you think its difficult to judge whether you’ll be able to clear an intersection before you enter it. And, if you misjudge and get a ticket, well more the better – next time you’ll probably be a better judge of this, and save the rest of us from having to punish you by pulling right up to the side of your car and frantically honking at you.

      • Excuse me? You think I dont have any experience driving in a city? You apparently dont have a lot of experience in life if you think every single situation is predictable.

        What am I supposed to do about the cab that stops in front of me with no warning? This happens enough to me that its definitely a thing.

        I dont even know why I am engaging with you because you lack any ability to think critically.

        I think this bears repeating… the vast majority of instances of blocking the intersection should be ticketed – however there is a very sizable minority of times that I’ve witnessed as both a pedestrian and a driver where no ticket is justified. This minority is sizable enough that a policy response of “any blocking of the intersection gets a ticket” is completely unacceptable. You anti-car zealots can go on any crusade you want, but everyone living in reality knows youre bat shit crazy.

        • Dude, you’re living for your car. Chill. Obey the law or travel by foot.

          • I agree with Anon X. I only drive about once a month (usually to get out of the city) so I’m obviously not living for my car, but I know what it’s like at some of those busy intersections. It’s very easy to get trapped, even with stellar judgement.

        • anti-car zealots could give a crap about blocking the box. i am writing as a fellow driver who can’t stand morons who cause gridlock that paralyzes multiple blocks by doing so. and, the law doesn’t differentiate “I blocked the box because I’m an idiot who didn’t see the cab coming” from “I blocked the box [for any other reason]”.

          • You are a moron. Cabs don’t have a big flashing light over the car that signals when they’re about to stop. They just stop. Wherever they want. You clearly aren’t a driver or you would have figured this out. There is also the dc culture of just stopping wherever the hell you want to so that you drop someone off or pick someone up. You are being intentionally obtuse by avoiding understanding the the legitimate reasons that putting up a camera for all box blockers is problematic.

          • if i wasn’t a driver why would I care about blocking the box? blocking the box is maddening for people in cars, and irrelevant to pedestrians.

            easy answer here is to give cabs more leeway because you know they might stop at any point, so you can be sure you won’t inadvertently get trapped in the intersection when the light turns red, because that is illegally blocking the box and worthy of a ticket no matter what lame excuse you came up with about why you were forced to stop in the middle of the intersection so we should all play our smallest violins for you when you get a ticket.

        • If an incompetent car driver blocks a crosswalk I’m trying to use, I either pound on the hood as I go past, or just walk over the hood. DC drivers do nothing. NYC drivers get out of their cars, at which point other pedestrians mock and ridicule the impotent car-dependent suburbanite.

          Likewise, if a good driver realizes her mistake and backs up, she gets a smile and a friendly wave from me.

          • Well aren’t you a wonderful human.

          • you do realize there are city dwellers who’s jobs require a car right? in fact they are provided a car due to the nature of their job. not everyone is an incompetent suburbanite or married to their car. get over yourself.

          • Indeed. It’s people like the one above who made us feel guilty for getting a second car (we live in the middle of the city, with multiple bus and metro lines within a couple blocks, but both our jobs are inaccessible without a car and I also need mine during the day to visit with clients).

          • Pounding on someone’s hood = never a good idea. How do you know that person’s not going to get out of the car and assault you? (Or worse yet, shoot you?)

          • Shhhh, textdoc, let him figure that out on his own. 😉

      • a traffic cop could ascertain the situation, a camera can’t.

        • traffic cop would still give you a ticket since you broke the law by blocking the box. your failure to know how to drive in the city causing you to get stuck in the intersection is irrelevant.

  • What is the legality of reflective lisence plate covers or sprays in dc?

    • Who cares, they work like a charm (photo blocker spray). I’ve seen the flash go off in my rearview quite a few times since applying it and I have yet to get a ticket.

  • And in other news, I watched 13 cyclists in a row completely ignore their red light while sitting outside last week on L street eating lunch, 3 vehicles including one metro bus half full with people having to slam on their brakes or swerve dangerously to avoid running them over. Heck, even DDOT quantified the number of bikers blowing through their redlights on PA Ave at ~ 50%, but that’s ok. “Those” rules are to be ignored…

    • Thank LOB at least one of the commentators was lucid enough to talk about that time they saw cyclists breaking the law!

      In other news, the system isn’t designed for cyclists, and so, cyclists make the logical decision to do what keeps them safe. The number of deaths by cyclists last year was what, 6 total in the US? The number of deaths by motor vehicle was 34,000+. Over 400,000 since the turn of the century.


  • I really don’t understand how a camera could detect if someone is in the crosswalk and a driver doesn’t stop. That just seems like it would create a lot of false positives so to speak. And while we’re on the subject, what about pedestrians who just dart in front of cars on a major throughway like Benning or Florida Ave (not in a crosswalk). I’ve had this happen even at night and am really surprised more people haven’t been killed. Let’s ticket them while we’re at it…

  • What about the assh*les who stay in the left lane on Rock Creek Park until the last minute and cut everyone off trying to get onto Beach. We waited 15 minutes to get there, and the only reason it took so long is because of those people shoving the front of their cars into our lane. I want to SCREAM at those people. Ticket them! …or put lane dividers up sooner so people can’t cut in at the last second!

  • justinbc

    “you clearly aren’t a driver”
    “you must never drive in the city”

    Wow, we’re all quite familiar with all of our anonymous selves aren’t we!

  • If they have cameras that can ticket people for blocking the box, I want one facing every direction at every intersection in all of downtown, and I hope the tickets start at $300+. It is the most infuriating thing in the world when some a-hole decides that not having to wait for the next light cycle for their trip means you don’t get to go on your light cycle now. I’ll be making a campaign contribution to whoever voted for those!

    • My goodness, there are some vindictive people on this thread. I hope I never accidentally do something to piss you off!

      • I’ve just seen it every day for years and yeah, it’s made me vindictive. Especially towards the eastbound traffic on Mass at 12th and Mass NW. Just yesterday, I was the car in the front of the line on 12th (one way going north). The light had about ten seconds on it, and one of the Mass Ave cars going east went from a stop on his side of the intersection into the intersection when the car ahead of him was already clearly hanging out into the intersection. Now, this doofus probably noticed the light ahead on Mass at 11th turned green, and thought enough cars would go for him to fit before his light hit red. If he’d been through the intersection before, though, he’d know the cars on 11th blocking the box at that intersection meant nobody on Mass was going anywhere for the first 20 seconds of that light. Well, his light turns yellow, he’s hanging out in the intersection, and sure enough, ON THE YELLOW LIGHT, **three** other cars go from dead stop right into the intersection, all thinking they’d get through. I sat and waited for the entire light cycle till my light went red again before they got through.
        So yes, I think every one of them deserves a $300 ticket so maybe they’d actually think next time. Like the speed cameras, I bet that once they go in and a couple thousand drivers get tickets, people learn and start to behave, and then sure enough people do discover it is in fact possible to drive legally.

        • The problem is that they did think. They thought that being 20 feet closer to their destination, even if it created total gridlock, would get them to where they’re going faster than waiting another light cycle in traffic that’s moving smoothly.

  • I hate that I missed this post, life isn’t fair. Anyone that has been on this site for the past few years knows exactly how I feel about the asshats that block the box. Anyone that blocks the box should get a ticket and I like Shaw Guy think the ticket should start at like $300. And yes, I know things happen but often times it is more of people being so entitled, inconsiderate and unaware that make these things happen. I will even compromise, maybe you get a warning for the first ticket, $200 for the second and then from there they double up to $800 or $1,600 at which point they suspend your license. How is that not fair? I bet after that second or third ticket your excuse making ass won’t be blocking anymore boxes no matter what. If you can’t deal with people honking at you from another car, you really need to re-evaluate living in a metropolitan city or at least driving in one.

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